Why are Acacias so named?
E Charles Nelson
tippitiwitchet at zetnet.co.uk
Thu Apr 2 02:09:22 EST 1998
The message <dd-0104981611140001 at modem64.win2.elite.net>
from dd at gondwana.org (David Deutsch) contains these words:
> In article <6fu2lf$3sp$1 at gnamma.connect.com.au>, "plantwest"
> <nreese at nrg.com.au> wrote:
> > the name acacia comes from the greek word for thorn - this is because
> > African acacias have thorns on their trunks. I have not seen any Asutralian
> > acacias with thorns though.
> Hmmm I always thought the name came from the fact that they only
> accasionally had thorns...
> David Deutsch
The name Acacia is of ancient origin and is derived from akis, a
sharp point; Dioscorides used the name. Its use as a generic name in
the modern (Linnaean) sense derives from its publication by Philip
Miller for those Old World species including the one known to the
Greeks. Miller, of course, did not know any of the Australian species
as they had yet to be "discovered".
The fact that not all Australian species have thorns is therefore
irrelevant to the origin and derivation of the name. And moreover,
there is a case for distinguishing the Australian species as a
separate genus for which the name Racosperma has been published. This
is a controversial proposal, and is certainly not yet widely accepted.
More information about the Plantbio