1. Family: Fabaceae Lindl.
    1. Genus: Vachellia Wight & Arn.
      1. Vachellia torrei (Brenan) Kyal. & Boatwr.

        Vachellia torrei was formally described (as Acacia torrei) by the British botanist John Patrick Micklethwait Brenan (1917-1985) in Kew Bulletin in 1968 when he was Keeper of the Herbarium. Little is known about this African shrub, which belongs to the pea and bean family (Leguminosae). Until recently it was represented by only three herbarium specimens collected in the 1940s. One of these was found by the explorer Antonio Rocha da Torre (1904-1995), who collected in Angola and Mozambique. His type specimen is housed in the Lisbon Herbarium, Portugal, and V. torrei was named after him. Further collections were made by Kew botanists David Goyder and Jonathan Timberlake during an expedition to Mozambique in 2006. In 2005, some species of the genus Acacia were transferred to the genus Vachellia Wight & Arn., including V. torrei.

    [KSP]

    Kew Species Profiles

    General Description
    Restricted to central Mozambique, Vachellia torrei was known from only three herbarium specimens collected in the 1940s, until further collections were made by Kew botanists in 2006.

    Vachellia torrei was formally described (as Acacia torrei) by the British botanist John Patrick Micklethwait Brenan (1917-1985) in Kew Bulletin in 1968 when he was Keeper of the Herbarium. Little is known about this African shrub, which belongs to the pea and bean family (Leguminosae). Until recently it was represented by only three herbarium specimens collected in the 1940s. One of these was found by the explorer Antonio Rocha da Torre (1904-1995), who collected in Angola and Mozambique. His type specimen is housed in the Lisbon Herbarium, Portugal, and V. torrei was named after him. Further collections were made by Kew botanists David Goyder and Jonathan Timberlake during an expedition to Mozambique in 2006. In 2005, some species of the genus Acacia were transferred to the genus Vachellia Wight & Arn., including V. torrei.

    Species Profile
    Geography and distribution

    Restricted to central Mozambique (Manica and Sofala Provinces), where it has been found up to 100 m above sea level. The British botanist J. P. M. Brenan described the species as gregarious (growing in open clusters or in pure associations), but a collection made by Kew botanist David Goyder and colleagues in 2006, describes it as forming localised thickets (in the Gorongosa National Park, central Mozambique).

    Description

    Overview: A shrub 1–2 m high, with young branchlets with numerous, conspicuous, dark, sessile, pustular glands, sometimes also with a very few inconspicuous hairs up to 0.5 mm long.

    Leaves: The stipules (leaf appendages) are spiny, up to 5 cm long, sometimes rather thicker than in related species, brownish to whitish, and often somewhat deflexed. There are no ‘ant-galls’ or other prickles present. The leaves have a small, sessile gland at the junction of the top one or two pairs of pinnae and there is often also a similar gland on the upper side of the petiole (leaf stalk). The leaves also have numerous smaller, dark, scattered glands, and a covering of downy hair. There are usually 7–13 pairs of pinnae and 6–15 pairs of leaflets. The leaflets are normally 3–6.5 x 1–2 mm, with a fringe of hairs on the margins, but otherwise hairless. They are without glands, except perhaps for a few inconspicuous glands on the margin near the apex. The leaflets end abruptly in a short, stiff point or spine. The lateral nerves are not visible on the underside.

    Flowers: The golden-yellow flowers are borne in spherical masses (pom-pom like heads). The calyx (whorl of sepals) is about 2 mm long. The corolla (whorl of petals) has only been observed when withered and torn.

    Fruits:  The sickle-shaped fruit is a dehiscent pod of 3–6 x 0.8–1 cm, and is sometimes constricted (often irregularly) between the seeds, with numerous, conspicuous, dark, sessile, pustular glands, and numerous, spreading, bristle-shaped hairs up to about 1 mm long, over the surface.

    Seeds: The seeds are olive-brown, about 5–6 x 5–6 mm, subcircular and compressed. The seeds have a 90% open pleurogram (fracture line) and an areole (flat area within the pleurogram) of 3–3.5 x 2.5–3 mm. The pods are produced in July.

    The ‘glandular pod group’ of legumes

    Acacia torrei belongs to a group of seven legume species which bear dark, sticky, glandular pods and are restricted to southern Africa. These seven species are all closely related to one another, and also to Acacia karroo . Each species seems to have a different habitat preference, and some think that that the group might have developed within the palaeo-Limpopo Basin over the last few million years from an ancestral form similar to A. karroo . As the basin became more arid, different populations became adapted to specific dry environments, such as black clay soils, gravelly soils and free-draining calcareous outcrops, evolving into different species as their geographical separation became more pronounced. Most of the species in this ‘glandular pod group’ occur in the Transvaal, where A. torrei is not present, it being found only in the Manica e Sofala region of Mozambique.

    Fruit of Acacia torrei (Image: Bart Wursten)

    A similar group of dark, sticky, glandular pod-bearing legumes is present in very dry areas of the USA and Mexico. Recent molecular analysis has shown that two of the four American species in this group are basal to the neotropical Acacia . This American group was shown to have a mean age of 7.93 million years (My). The African group, of which A. karroo was shown to be a ‘sister’ to the American species, is thought to be older, with a mean age of 10.85 My. The results of this research suggest a possible biogeographical relationship amongst the glandular pod lineages in Africa and America.

    Threats and conservation

    No major threats to Acacia torrei are known, and there are no known conservation measures in place for this species. It has been recorded as forming localised thickets in the Gorongosa National Park in central Mozambique. It has been recommended that A. torrei seeds should be collected and stored in Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank as an ex situ conservation measure.

    Very little is known about this species, and it is difficult to assess its conservation status, which therefore has to be rated as Data Deficient (DD). Further research and fieldwork is required to define its distribution range, habitat preference and population status and to determine whether A. torrei might be of conservation concern.

    Acacia torrei growing in the greenhouse of the Botanical Garden in Nelspruit, South Africa (Image: Wolf-Achim Roland) Conservation assessments carried out by Kew

    Acacia torrei is being monitored as part of the Sampled Red List Index Project, which aims to produce conservation assessments for a representative sample of the world’s plant species. This information will then be used to monitor trends in extinction risk and help focus conservation efforts where they are needed most.

    This species at Kew

    Pressed and dried specimens of Acacia torrei are held in Kew’s Herbarium, where they are available to researchers from around the world, by appointment. 

    View details of these specimens, including an image, online in the Herbarium Catalogue

    Distribution
    Mozambique
    Ecology
    Alluvial soils under wet grassland or scrub, and savanna (grassy plains) on black clay soils.
    Conservation
    Data Deficient (DD) according to IUCN Red List Criteria.
    Hazards

    The leaf bases have spines up to five cm long.

    [FZ]

    Leguminosae, J.P.M. Brenan. Flora Zambesiaca 3:1. 1970

    Habit
    Shrub 1-2 m. high (? taller and up to 5 m.); young branchlets with numerous conspicuous dark sessile pustular glands, sometimes also with a very few inconspicuous hairs up to 0·5 mm. long.
    Stipules
    Stipules spinescent, up to 5 cm. long, sometimes rather thicker than in related species, brownish to whitish, often somewhat deflexed; “ant-galls” and other prickles absent.
    Leaves
    Leaves with a small sessile gland at the junction of each of the top 1-2 pairs of pinnae, often also with a similar gland on the upper side of the petiole, and in addition pubescent and with numerous smaller dark scattered glands; pinnae 7-13(20) pairs; leaflets 6-15 pairs, (2)3-6·5 x 1-2(3) mm., ciliate on the margins, otherwise glabrous, eglandular except often for a few inconspicuous glands on the margin near the apex, spinulose-mucronate at the apex; lateral nerves invisible beneath.
    Flowers
    Flower-colour uncertain, probably yellow.
    Calyx
    Calyx c. 2 mm. long.
    Corolla
    Corolla only known withered and torn.
    Fruits
    Pods dehiscent, 3-6 x 0·8-1 cm., falcate, constricted (often irregularly) or not between the seeds, with numerous conspicuous dark sessile pustular glands over the surface, as well as numerous spreading setiform hairs up to c. 1 mm. long.
    Seeds
    Seeds olive-brown, c. 6 x 6 mm., subcircular, compressed; areole 3-3·5 x 2·5-3 mm.

    Images

    Distribution

    Found In:

    Mozambique

    Vachellia torrei (Brenan) Kyal. & Boatwr. appears in other Kew resources:

    First published in Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 172: 517 (2013)

    Literature

    • [1] Kyalangalilwa, B., Boatwright, J. S., Daru, B. H., Maurin, O. and Van der Bank, M. (2013). Phylogenetic position and revised classification of Acacia s.l. (Fabaceae: Mimosoideae) in Africa, including new combinations in Vachellia and Senegalia. Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 172: 500-523
    • [2] Gomez-Acevedo, S., Rico-Arce, L., Delgado-Salinas, A., Magallon, S. & Eguiarte, L. E. (2010). Neotropical mutualism between Acacia and Pseudomyrmex: Phylogeny and divergence times. Mol. Phy. Evol. 56: 393-408.
    • [3] Hyde, M. A. & Wursten, B. (2010). Flora of Mozambique: Species information - Acacia torreiwww.mozambiqueflora.com/speciesdata/species.php?species_id=170700 (accessed 17 December 2010).
    • [4] The Plant List (2010). Acacia torrei. http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl/record/ild-631 (accessed 22 March 2011).
    • [5] Contu, S. (2009). Acacia torrei. Assessment using IUCN Categories and Criteria 3.1 (IUCN 2001). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. [Draft SRLI conservation assessments, pending approval by IUCN, can be viewed at: threatenedplants.myspecies.info/].
    • [6] Lewis, G.P. (2005). Tribe Acacieae. In Lewis, G., Schrire*, B., Mackinder*, B. & Lock*, M. (eds) Legumes of the world. Kew: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 187-191.
    • [7] Ross, J. H. (1979). A conspectus of the African Acacia species. Mem. Bot. Survey South Africa 44: 1-55.
    • [8] Ross, J. H. (1971). The Acacia species with glandular glutinous pods in Southern Africa. Bothalia 10: 351-354.
    • [9] (1970) Flora Zambesiaca 3(1): 1-153. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

    Sources

    Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (2017). Published on the internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp
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    Kew Species Profiles
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