Fever tree

Acacia xanthophloea

Fever tree (Acacia xanthophloea)
A medium to large sized tree with a sparsely rounded to spreading crown. The fever tree has a very distinctive yellow trunk which is covered with a fine dust. It occurs on river banks, flood plains and swampy area.

Conservation status : Not protected
Height : 15 to 25 m
Foliage : Deciduous
family : Pod bearing (Fabaceae)

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Fever tree trunks and main branches are used as fencing to keep hippos out of cultivated areas.

The fever tree has pairs of long straight white thorns which slow the rate of browsing down. These thorns are prominent in young shrubby trees which are at more risk from browsers compared to the tall mature trees where they are barely noticeable.

The fever tree offers sustenance to a range of animals – baboons, monkeys and bush babies for the nutritious gum. Giraffes and monkeys eat the pods, elephants the young branches and leaves, and monkeys, butterflies, bees and the grey go-away bird are attracted to the flowers.

The species name for the fever tree has Greek origins, xanthophloea, refers to the tree’s bark, “xanthos” meaning yellow and “phloios” meaning bark.

The fever tree gets its common name from pioneers who believed that the tree caused fevers. In fact the fever was actually malaria which they caught from mosquitoes that bred in the swampy fever tree habitat.

The genus of the fever tree, acacia, stems from the Greek word, “acantha” meaning spine, thorn or prickle.

Traditional medicines use the bark of the fever tree for treating fevers and eye infections, and the roots are powdered up for the treatment of malaria.