Information printed from the
Guide to the Trees of Kenya Useful for Agroforestry website,
based on "A Pocket Directory of Trees and Seeds in Kenya" by Dr. Wayne Teel

Acacia tortilis

current tree

Local Names

AqabKuraAbak (Som)
Dadach (Bor)Dedacha (Orm)Dadwota (Mal)
EtirEtiiriEwoi (Tur)
Ltepes (Sab)Mgunga (Kisw)Mulaa
Kilaa (Kam)Oltepesi (Mas)Ses (Pok)
Sesiet (Tug)Sesya (Nan)


Acacia tortilis is probably the most common tree used for charcoal making in dry areas of Kenya, as well as being one of the most abundant species. It provides excellent fodder for camels, sheep and goats, especially from pods, which are often collected for sale around towns in northeastern Kenya. Family groups in Turkana District, and other dry areas, often claim exclusive rights to pods in certain riverine forests. The pods are generally ripe and ready at the time of year when other fodder is in short supply. A. tortilis fixes nitrogen, can act as a living fence, and provides shade. It does not intercrop well because of its shallow root system, but it does encourage grass growth around its base. Young plants require protection from goats and if well managed, they grow relatively fast on dry, sandy sites.

Preferred Climate Type

Though it grows well in wetter climates, A. tortilis is most important in the Isiolo and Wajir climate region. It survives on as little as 100mm annual rainfall and thrives in most riverine forests. It prefers deeper, sandy soils and tolerates alkaline, shallow or rocky types. (Thika, Isiolo, Kajiado, Lamu, Wajir. Zone IV, 1-4; V, 1-4; VI, 1-4; VII, 1-2.)

Seed Information

Peak season for the small, 6mm x 3mm x 2mm seeds is in August in Garissa. There are about 12,000 seeds per kilogram. One could find seed in areas which had little rain in 1983 or 1984 and which have no appreciable water table. The seed is easy to collect, but seems to be specially designed to resist nicking except by hungry goats. Soaking is not as effective as with other species, but still worth the effort, as once germinated, A. tortilis grows and transplants easily. Seeds remain viable extraordinary lengths of time. A study in Turkana District indicated that some seed remained in ground 11 years before germinating.

Additional Sources of Information

Winrock International

Copyright © 2004 Wayne Teel