Red Acacia is an evergreen, thorny, medium to large-sized tree which can potentially reach a height of 50 feet, but in cultivation is typically much smaller. It has a thick trunk up to 2 feet in diameter, with rust-colored powdery bark, and large spines and exudes a gum. Branches have smaller curved spines. It has an umbrella-shaped crown, flat on top, open and casting medium shade. Leaves are dark green, bipinnate, 3-4 inches long; individual leaflets are about 1/2 inch long. Flowers are borne on stems bunched together as showy fragrant yellow blooms on a rounded head, each bloom 5/8 inch in diameter. Bees are attracted to red acacia and it is considered a honey tree. Fruits are pods, dry, hard light brown when mature, 4-6 x 1/2 inch, containing several seeds, used for propagation. Seed pods and bark contain tannin. The gum and bark have medicinal use, and the wood has many historic uses as well as for fuel. Livestock feed on the bark, leaves and fruits. The tree is self-seeding or grows from root suckers. In cultivation, red acacia is a hardy tree which will grow in poor soils and withstands periodic flooding; it develops a deep tap root. As an ornamental tree, red acacia is a good accent or specimen tree with its attractive foliage and flowers. Caution must be taken about planting it close to where individuals may be injured by the large spines.
The gum is believed to be aphrodisiac. The bark decoction is used for dysentery and leprosy. Tanganyikans use the bark as a stimulant in tropical africa. The gum is used as emollient and astringent for colds, diarrhea, hemorrhage and ophhthalmia. Mixed with acacia sieberana dc, it is used for intestinal ailments on the ivory coast. Wood used as a fumigant for rheumatic pains, and to protect puerperal mothers from colds and fevers. Eating the gum is supposed to afford some protection against bronchitis and rheumatism (duke, 1983a).