Chapter 2:  Decorative Seeds of the New World - Central and South America

Acacia  spp.

With over 1000 species, acacias comprise one of the largest genera in the legume family. The hollow thorns of Acacia cornigera and A. collinsii add pattern to necklaces made in Belize and Costa Rica.  The trees' hollow thorns are inhabited by symbiotic ants who sting mammals trying to browse the tree.  In return the ants receive nourishment from the tree's leafstalks and leaflet tips.  The podlike fruits of acacias are either flattened or cylindrical, often with constrictions between the seeds.

Most are native to warm regions in Africa and Australia, where they are known as wattles.  Some species have thorny twigs and are used as fencing in Africa to keep out animals.  In Swaziland a species of Acacia is regarded as a sacred tree because its quick growth and greenness represent fertility.1