Also known as Acacia senegal (acacia gum or true gum arabic), Acacia nilotica (Indian gum arabic), and Acacia seyhal (talha). The acacia trees of the Dafur region of Sudan are harvested for resins variously known as gum arabic, Indian gum arabic, or talha. Although acacia trees are found throughout the ngum belt of sub-Saharan Africa, Chad, Eritrea, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sudan, the plant is most abundant in Sudan. The preferred resin comes from the Acacia senegal tree and is traded as acacia gum or gum arabic.
The acacia is a plant in the family Mimosacaea, related to the mimosas of the southern United States and a close cousin of the legumes. It would not be inaccurate to think of the acacia as a tree-sized, woody, spiny bean.
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The plant only produces acacia gum under adverse conditions, such as poor soil, drought, or heat, and damaged trees produce more gum. For these reasons, the most abundant harvest of acacia gum is produced in Sudan.
In the Southwestern United States a potentially toxic plant (a species of Acacia) known locally as ua de gato (cat's claw) is frequently confused with the plant Au de gato from the Peruvian Amazon (Uncaria tomentosa). It is not the rainforest herb, and it is not a source of acacia gum, although it is sometimes sold in hierber?as as either or both.
Acacia gum is colorless, tasteless, and soluble in cold water. Chemically, acacia gum is a combination of complex polysaccharides and proteins. On the molecular level, this arabino-galactan-protein complex is a beautiful amalgamation of complex branches, trapping water in its folds for the use of the plant.
Parts Used - The gum. Farmers of Dafur harvest acacia gum in two stages. First, they strip bark from unhealthy plants. The acacias then form tears of gum that dry and can be collected later. The drops of gum are three-quarters to three inches (1.5 to 8 cm) in diameter, irregularly shaped, and beige or yellowish white.
Precautions - Safe for internal use as a food and for external use without limitation, although allergies are possible for people exposed to windborne pollen (in Africa, India, or Saudi Arabia).
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