by Stephen Mifsud
   7 Dec 2023      ()
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Vachellia karroo   (Karroo Thorn)

Vachellia karroo  (FABACEAE.) 
Images for this profile are taken from the Maltese Islands after year 2000.

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Profile Date Dec-2007 (taxon update: May-2022)
Citation for this page Mifsud, S. (2022). Vachellia karroo - datasheet created on Dec-2007. Retrieved from on 07-Dec-2023

Nomenclature and Basic Information

Species name :

Vachellia karroo(Hayne) Banfi & Galasso
Published in Darst. Beschr. Arzn. Gewächse 10 : t. 33 (1827)

Synonyms :
(basionym or principal syn.)

Mimosa reticulata L.
Synonym that was used for long in Malta: Acacia karoo Hayne
Full list of synonyms : [Euro+Med] [PlantList] [IPNI] [POWO] [Catalogue of Life] []

Plant Family :

Fabaceae Lindl. (The Pea Family)
9 species from the Fabaceae family are recorded from the Maltese Islands.

English name(s) :

Karroo Thorn, Sweet Thorn, Kangaroo Thorn

Maltese name(s) :

Gażżija tax-xewk kbir, Xewk ta Kristu, Akaċja tax-xewk kbir

Status for Malta :

Invasive Alien. Species that was introduced in Malta any time after year 1492 (Columbus' discovery of the New World), and spreads rapidly to form large invasive populations to the detriment of native flora or ecosystems.

Frequency :

Very Common     Common    Frequent     Scarce     Rare    Very rare    Extinct

Growth form :

Raunkiaer lifeform [info]: Macro-Phanerophyte ( high trees usually over 10 m high )
Germination [info]: Dicotyledon

Legal Protection :

Not legally protected till the last update of this website (2/Mar/2022)

Red List (1989) :

Not listed in the Red Data Book of the Maltese Islands

Flowering Time :

March – May

Colour of Flowers:



Mildy toxic, can cause adverse conditions if consumed in large quantities

Name Derivation :


Planting in rural areas :

Cannot be planted in the wild (rural areas) since the species may be invasive (see ERA guidelines)

Remarks :

Closely related is the species Acacia farnesiana with smaller and less numerous thorns and slightle smaller leaflets. Acacia species are highly invasive and planned to be eridicated from our islands by local authorities. Planting of such trees in now prohibited.

Description, Habitat and Distribution
Habitat in Europe: Cultivated in S.W. Europe for ornament and for hedges, and locally naturalized.
Preferred habitat in Malta: Cultivated in many sites, namely roadsides and as hedges in field borders, sometimes naturalising and expanding into sizable populations.
Botanical Description: Similar to Acacia fernesiana but leaves with 2-7 pairs of pinnae; leaflets 5-14 pairs, 6-10 x 2-4 mm, oblong; stipular spines on older branches 50-100 mm; capitula in fascicles of 4-6 in the axils of the upper leaves; peduncles up to 2.5 cm, glabrous; flowers slightly fragrant; legume 80-130 x 6-8 mm, linear-falcate, flattened, slightly constricted between the seeds, greyish-brown when mature.
Native region outside Europe: South Africa

Distributional map in Europe
and the Mediterranean region (2018):
Occurrences in Europe.
(from Flora Europaea pre year 1993):
Introduced in  Corse, Spain (incl. Andorra but excl. the Balaerics), Portugal, Sicily and/or Malta
Occurrences in Europe and the Mediterranean region.
(from Euro+Med Checklist, 2019)
  Country codes  
[Co Hs(S) Lu Ma Si(S)]

Links & Further literature (0 papers)

Google Web

Google Images

Google Scholar

Research Gate




Med Checklist

Cat. of Life



World Flora Online

Plants of the World Online

Vienna Virt. Herb.

RBGE Herbarium

KEW Herbarium




Kindly Email if there are papers and publications about local studies or information about this species to be included in the list above.

Species Images (12 images)
   Vachellia karroo   -   Image Code: VCHKR-0.
   Vachellia karroo   -   Image Code: VCHKR-1.
   Vachellia karroo   -   Image Code: VCHKR-2.
   Vachellia karroo   -   Image Code: VCHKR-3.
   Vachellia karroo   -   Image Code: VCHKR-4.
   Vachellia karroo   -   Image Code: VCHKR-5.
   Vachellia karroo   -   Image Code: VCHKR-6.
   Vachellia karroo   -   Image Code: VCHKR-7.
   Vachellia karroo   -   Image Code: VCHKR-8.
   Vachellia karroo   -   Image Code: VCHKR-9.
   Vachellia karroo   -   Image Code: VCHKR-10.
   Vachellia karroo   -   Image Code: VCHKR-11.

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