Gum Arabic is a hard, translucent gum obtained from various species of the Acacia genus produced during the dry season under hot temperatures when the trees are stressed most. The gum is a chief source of income for various semi-nomadic people in the Sahel region. Gum Arabic is sometimes used as a purification incense throughout Africa and has purported medicinal benefits.
The gum produces a rather unusual "burning sugar" scent when placed upon a hot charcoal and is used more often as a binder within mixtures rather than being burned alone. The resin smolders and blackens in a similar way to most Commiphoras rather than evaporating when heated. Though not very commonly employed as a stand alone incense, a mild pleasant warm scent is produced by heating the gum through indirect methods. It is also reported that the bark is used as incense by the Borana and Gebbra people.
Outside of incense production, the gum finds numerous uses in food, medicine, art & various industrial applications. Acacia senegal is considered the only food-safe source of Gum Arabic. The gum has various reported properties including use as an astringent, binder, coating, emulsifier, fixative, stabilizer & thickener. Gum Arabic has been used in various ways for traditional medicine as a treatment for catarrh, colds, coughs, diarrhea, hemorrhages, inflammation, ophthalmia & soar throats. Smoke from the burning roots is inhaled in Uganda as a treatment for migraines.
A. senegal is found extensively in the Sahel region of Africa, as well as various other coastal and dessert scrublands within the tropical regions.
Endemic to Sub-Saharan Africa, including: Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Cote D'Ivoire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambi, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zaire, Zambia, Zimbabwe & the island of Madagascar.
Also native to the Sind province & Baluchistan region of Pakistan, as well as the state of Rajasthan, the southeast Punjab region and the territory of Delhi in India. Also found throughout Arabian Peninsula including Oman.
Asian tongues Chinese:阿拉伯胶 "A la bo jiao" Japanese:ア カシアセネガル "Akashia senegaru", アラビアゴムノキ "Arabia gomu no ki", アラビアゴム "Arabiagomu", セネガルア カシア "Senegaru akashia" Taiwanese:阿 拉伯膠樹 "A la bo jiao shu" Thai:กัม อารบิก "Gam aan bik"
Germanic tongues Danish:Gummiakacie German:Arabicumbaum, Arabisches Gummi, Dreidorn-Akazie, Gummi-Akazie, Gummiarabikum-Baum, Gummibaum, Haschab der Nilländer,Senegal Akazie,Verek der Senegambier, Verek Akazie Swedish:Gummiakacia
NOTE: The research on Acacia senegal is ongoing. We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. Please expect the above information to be revised as more information becomes available. If you have further information about this species or if you wish to submit a correction to this page, please feel free to contact us here
As of 2016, we have decided to majorly simplify the taxonomic structures of the species collection. Due to the numerous systems available, and many species being disputed and in a state of flux, we feel that most of our audience will be better served with a easier to understand condensed listing.
Print materials: • Booth, F. E. M., and G. E. Wickens. Non-Timber Uses of Selected Arid Zone Trees and Shrubs in Africa. Rome: FAO Conservation Guide, 1988. • Maundu, Patrick M. Traditional Food Plants of Kenya.Nairobi: National Museum of Kenya, 1999. • Pennacchio, Marchello, and Lara Jefferson, and Kayri Havens. Uses and Abuses of Plant-Derived Smoke. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.