Unlike the jacaranda and the eucalyptus, of which I talked before, the acacia is an indigenous tree to Ethiopia, even though not all the species that live there are. About 14 of them are native, but there are at least three that were brought from Australia.
Anyway, the acacia is not an invasive tree, and one of its advantages is that is very resistant to draught and there is some research done about reforesting certain areas that now are almost deserts with native and imported species of acacia.
The uses of this very resistant tree are many, wood for fuel, windbreaker, to improve the soil, to make furniture or poles, medicinal, etc.
The acacia has a very sweet smell and it’s capable of growing in very hard conditions, like the deserts of Arabia. It’s a very rustic plant with angular branches and sharp thorns. It provides shade and shelter to the animals of the African savanna. Giraffes, antelopes and elephants eat their leaves, and birds nest in their branches.
The acacia is linked to many myths and religious beliefs .
This tree plays a part in the legend of Osiris and is associated with immortality. According to this legend, Osiris, God and King at the same time, was the heir of the kingdom of Egypt and represented the good side, regeneration, and fertility, while his brother Typhon represented aridity and the dark side. Osiris married his sister, Goddess Iris, and after completing his mission in Egypt, went to teach to other lands, leaving Isis in charge of Egypt. But Thyphon hated his brother, so while Osiris was in other nations, he made a plan to get rid of him. He secretly obtained the body measurements of Osiris and made a richly decorated wood chest in which his brother would fit perfectly. When Osiris came back, Typhon decided to offer a banquet in his honor and during the party he offered to give the chest to anyone who would fit exactly inside. Osiris, amazed by the chest beauty, decided to try it and when he saw that he fitted, he said : "I fit perfectly, and it will be mine forever", and Typhon answered "It’s yours brother, and indeed it will be yours forever" and closed the lid abruptly, nailing it and sealing it with melted lead. The chest was then taken to the Nile River where it was thrown. The box was carried by the river to the shores of the city of Byblos, where the waves threw it against an acacia tree. The tree grew embracing the chest and became a magnificent specimen. It became famous for its beauty, and the King of that land ordered to build a pillar for his castle with the trunk of that tree.
When Isis knew about the betrayal of Typhon, she set to find the body of her husband with her son Horus. She traveled everywhere in search of him, asking everybody she saw, when finally some children that were playing by a river told her where the chest went. Isis offered to take care of the King’s child and as a payment only asked one thing; the big acacia pillar that was in his palace. When he gave it to her, Isis opened it and took the chest that was inside, and when she opened the box, she found the body of Osiris perfectly preserved.
This sacred God, dies every year when plants wither, only to be reborn again in spring. To transcend death and get eternal life, Osiris represents the promise of redemption in the after life. The spiritual goal of ancient Egyptians was to transcend the limits of the person and join with Osiris, and the acacia was the guardian of this promise, because it protected the body of Osiris while his soul was embracing the universe. From this belief is that the FrancMasons consider the acacia as a representation of the immortality of the soul.
The acacia was considered sacred by the ancient Hebrews; it is said that Moses used the wood of acacia to build the Ark of Covenant, the Tabernacle and the altar. There is also a legend that says that the crown of Christ was made with the thorns of an acacia.
In South America, the acacia was also considered a sacred tree. It’s said that when Charles Darwin was traveling through the Patagonia, between the Rio Negro and the Rio Colorado, he stumbled upon a ancient and lonely tree, gnarled and hollow, that was considered sacred by the Indians; everyone that passed by it left an offering. The poor will leave colored threads, and the rich will poured alcohol or mate in his hollowed trunk.