Vachellia farnesiana, previously known as Acacia farnesiana, commonly known as Needle Bush, is so named because of the numerous thorns distributed along its branches. The native range of V. farnesiana is uncertain. While the point of origin is Mexico and Central America the species has a pantropical distribution incorporating Northern Australia and Southern Asia. It remains unclear whether the extra-American distribution is primarily natural or anthropogenic.[1] It is deciduous over part of its range,[2] but evergreen in most locales.[3] The species grows to a height of up to 8 metres (26 ft)[4] and has a life span of about 25–50 years.[5]

The plant has recently recently spread to many new locations as a result of human activity and it is considered a serious weed in Fiji, where locals call it Ellington's Curse. It thrives in dry, saline or sodic soils. It is also a serious pest plant in parts of Australia, including north-west New South Wales, where it now infests thousands of acres of grazing country.[6]

The taxon name "farnesiana" is specially named after Odoardo Cardinal Farnese (1573–1626) of the notable Italian Farnese family which, after 1550, under the patronage of cardinal Alessandro Farnese, maintained some of the first private European botanical gardens in Rome, in the 16th and 17th centuries. Under stewardship of these Farnese Gardens this acacia was imported to Italy. The addition of the -ol in the compound ending is a result of it being chemically an alcohol.[7] The plant itself was brought to the Farnese Gardens from the Caribbean and Central America, where it originates.[8][9] Analysis of essences of the floral extract from this plant, long used in perfumery, resulted in the name for the sesquiterpene biosynthetic chemical farnesol, found as a basic sterol precursor in plants, and cholesterol precursor in animals.[8].

Some of the reported uses of the plant


The bark is used for its tannin content.[4] Highly tannic barks are common in general to acacias, extracts of many being are used in medicine for this reason.


"Roasted pods used in sweet and sour dishes."[10]


The flowers are processed through distillation to produce a perfume called Cassie. It is widely used in the perfume industry in Europe. Flowers of the plant provide the perfume essence from which the biologically important sesquiterpenoid farnesol is named.

Scented ointments from Cassie are made in India.[4]


The foliage is a significant source of forage in much of its range, with a protein content of around 18%.

Seed pods

The concentration of tannin in the seed pods is about 23%.


The seeds of V. farnesiana are completely non-toxic to humans[11] and are a valuable food source for people throughout the plant's range. The ripe seeds are put through a press to make oil for cooking.[12] Nonetheless an anecdotal report has been made that in Brazil some people use the seeds of V. farnesiana to eliminate rabid dogs.[4] This is attributed to an unnamed toxic alkaloid.


The tree makes good forage for bees.[13]

Dyes and Inks

A black pigment is extracted from the bark and fruit.[13]


Acaci farnesiana flowers are distilled in the south of France to make an essential oil called Cassie which is used as a basis for aromatherapy and perfume.[14]

Traditional medicine

The bark and the flowers are the parts of the tree most used in traditional medicine.[12] V. farnesiana has been used in Colombia to treat malaria, and it has been confirmed in the laboratory that extract from the tree bark[15] and leaves[16] is effective against the malarial pathogen Plasmodium falciparum.[17] Indigenous Australians have used the roots and bark of the tree to treat diarrhea and diseases of the skin.[13] The tree's leaves can also be rubbed on the skin to treat skin diseases.[18]

One or more alkaloids present in Vachellia farnesiana: "phenethylamine; N-methly-.beta.-phenethylamine; tyramine; hordenine; N,N-dimethyl-phenethylamine; and N,N-dimethyl-.alpha.-methylphenethylamine" in the "leaves, bark, and roots."[19]

The following compounds are said to be in Vachellia farnesiana:

  • β-methyl-phenethylamine, flower.[22]

Ether extracts about 2-6% of the dried leaf mass.[23] Alkaloids are present in the bark.[24]

Common names

Farnese Wattle, Dead Finish, Mimosa Wattle, Mimosa bush, Prickly Mimosa Bush, Prickly Moses, Needle Bush, North-west Curara, Sheep's Briar, Sponge Wattle, Sweet Acacia, Thorny Acacia, Thorny Feather Wattle, Wild Briar, Huisache, Cassie, Cascalotte, Cassic, Mealy Wattle, Popinac, Sweet Briar, Texas Huisache, Aroma, (Bahamas) Cashia, (USA) Opoponax, Cashaw, (Belize) Cuntich, (Jamaica) Cassie-flower, Cassie, Iron Wood, Cassie Flower, Honey-ball, Casha Tree, Casha, (Virgin Islands) Cassia, (Fiji) Ellington's Curse.

Botanical varieties

  • Vachellia farnesiana var. farnesiana
  • Vachellia farnesiana var. guanacastensis H.D.Clarke et al.



  1. Clarke, H.D., Seigler, D.S., Ebinger, J.E. 1989; 'Acacia farnesiana (Fabaceae: Mimosoideae) and Related Species from Mexico, the Southwestern U.S., and the Caribbean' Systematic Botany 14 549-564
  2. PDF Ursula K. Schuch and Margaret Norem, Growth of Legume Tree Species Growing in the Southwestern United States, University of Arizona.
  3. Discover Life - Fabaceae: Acacia farnesiana (L. ) Willd. - Cassie Flower, Vachellia farnesiana, Poponax farnesiana, Mimosa farnesiana, Ellington Curse, Klu, Sweet Acacia, Mimosa Bush, Huisache
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Purdue University
  5. Acacia Search
  6. "Mimosa bush - briar bush". Retrieved 2008-04-09. 
  7. Etymology of farnesol, accessed August 27, 2009.
  9. Location of the Farnese family gardens, now known only as a remnant.
  11. Food Standards Australia
  12. 12.0 12.1
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Bottlebrush Press
  14. ACACIA FARNESIANA (Linn) Willd.
  15. Khare, C. P. (2004). Indian Herbal Remediess: rational Western therapy, ayurvedic, and other traditional usage, botany. p. 11. ISBN 3540010262. 
  16. G. Garavitoa, Corresponding Author Contact Information, E-mail The Corresponding Author, J. Rincóna, L. Arteagaa, Y. Hataa, G. Bourdyb, A. Gimenezc, R. Pinzóna and E. Deharo, Ethnopharmacological communication Antimalarial activity of some Colombian medicinal plants Journal of Ethnopharmacology Volume 107, Issue 3, 11 October 2006, Pages 460-462
  17. Abstract of G. Garavitoa, Corresponding Author Contact Information, E-mail The Corresponding Author, J. Rincóna, L. Arteagaa, Y. Hataa, G. Bourdyb, A. Gimenezc, R. Pinzóna and E. Deharo, Ethnopharmacological communication, Antimalarial activity of some Colombian medicinal plants Journal of Ethnopharmacology Volume 107, Issue 3, 11 October 2006, Pages 460-462.
  18. Philippine Herbs Used in Small Animal Practice
  19. Dietary supplement and method of using same. United States Patent 20060204599
  20. Lycaeum
  21. Selected Plants of Medicinal Value in Costa Rica
  22. Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases
  23. Wattle Seed Workshop Proceedings 12 March 2002, Canberra March 2003 RIRDC Publication No 03/024, RIRDC Project No WS012-06

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Vachellia farnesiana. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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