Acacia raddiana

Common name   Twisted acacia
Hebrew name   שיטה סלילנית
أللّغة آلعربيّة   سنط لولبي
Family Fabaceae
Petals No petals
Leaf form Pinnate
Leaf margin Entire
Habitat Desert
צורת הגבעול Round
Life form Tree
Distribution in Israel Mediterranean coast, Samarian desert, Judean desert and Dead Sea valley, Shefela, Northern Negev, Negev hills and Eilat, Aravah,
Flowering months
allergenic Nectar plant


Twisted acacia
© Photo: Amram Eshel  
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Additional information

Acacia raddiana is a short desert tree with an impressive umbrella shape: a single non-branched trunk, which at a certain height (1-3 meters) suddenly branches into a broad and flat crown. The bark is brown-reddish.
The tree grows deep roots. It grows in places where there is water at great depths and utilizes water stores that other plants cannot compete take advantage of. It is found mostly in the beds of seasonal streams in the desert. It grows in the Negev Desert and has also penetrated less dry and warm areas. It is prevalent in the suitable places, is prominent in the landscape and holds a dominant position in its ecosystem.
Acacia raddiana is very thorny. The thorns originate from stipules, and are sharp and rigid. Indeed, its young leaves need all possible protection in an environment where every green sprout is in great demand. Drivers know that they should not pass with their cars under Acacia trees, because the thorns of branches that fell can puncture tires. Nonetheless, the camel succeeds in sticking its lips between the thorns and biting the leaves. Gazelles feed on fallen fruits. Furthermore, its seeds will germinate better after they have passed through the gazelle’s stomach.
The tree belongs to the Mimosaceae family, Leguminosae. The young leaves and branches are glabrous.The leaves are alternate, bipinnate. There are several nectaries on the leaf axis.
Acacia raddiana blooms mainly from October to December, also in March-April. The flowers are light yellow, arranged densely in small globules, like other members of the genus. The filaments are long, protrude from the corolla and determine the color of the inflorescence. The fruit is a curled legumen.
The genus Acacia contains 750 species, half of which grow in Australia and the Pacific Ocean islands. In Israel there are 4 species that grow wild and several other domesticated species.

Written by Mike Livne


“Shittim wood” (Acacia) is mentioned 12 times in the Bible. They were the trees from which the Tabernacle and some of its utensils were made: “And they shall make an ark of shittim wood … And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold” (Exodus 25: 10, 13); “And thou shalt make boards for the tabernacle of shittim wood standing up” (Exodus 16: 15); “And thou shalt make an altar of shittim wood” (Exodus 27: 1); “And he made the incense altar of shittim wood” (Exodus 37: 25).
Acacia is awarded a place of honor alongside the cedar in the consolation prophecies: “I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree” (Isaiah 41: 19). Acacia trees were given preferential treatment: “God will return any Acacia (shittah) tree that gentiles took from Jerusalem” (Babylonian Talmud, Rosh Hashanah 23: 1).
Felling live Acacia trees in the desert is taboo to date. In the Aramaic tradition, a person who cut down a living tree, would have his arm cut off. The resin that drips from desert Acacia trees was used by the ancients as medicine, and is called gummi arabicum (Arabic gum). The Talmud also mentions a medicine made from Acacia.