Vachellia hindsii - habit

Vachellia hindsii

Vachellia hindsii - branch

Vachellia hindsii - trunk

Vachellia hindsii - spine with ant

Vachellia hindsii

Vachellia hindsii

Vachellia hindsii


Vachellia hindsii (Bentham) Seigler & Ebinger, Phytologia 87:  159.  2005.
syn. Acacia hindsii Bentham, London Journal Botany 1:  504.  1842.

Synonymy and types

Basionym:  Acacia hindsii Benth., London J. Bot.  1: 504.  1842.  Myrmecodendron hindsii (Benth.) Britton & Rose, N. Amer. Fl.  23: 91.  1928. - TYPE:  MEXICO.  JALISCO:  Jalisco, shore of Manzanilla Bay, sea level, 1841, R. B. Hinds 248 (holotype:  K, F photo).

Acacia bursaria Schenck, Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg.  12: 363.  1913. - TYPE:  GUATEMALA.  AMATITLÁN:  Laguna Amatitlán, alt. 3,900 ft., Feb 1890, J. D. Smith 2304 [lectotype, designated by Seigler and Ebinger (1995):  US (B, destroyed); isotypes:  GH, K].

Acacia sinaloensis Saff., J. Wash. Acad. Sci.  4: 365.  1914. - TYPE:  MEXICO.  SINALOA:  vicinity of Villa Unión, growing about a pond, 2 Apr 1910, J. N. Rose, P. C. Standley & P. G. Russell 13972 (holotype:  US;  isotype:  NY).

Acacia tepicana Saff., J. Wash. Acad. Sci.  4: 366.  1914. - TYPE:  MEXICO.  NAYARIT:  thickets, vicinity of Acoponeta, Tepic, alt. 30 m, 10 Apr 1910, J. N. Rose, P. C. Standley & P. G. Russell 14357 (holotype:  US, F photo; isotype:  NY).

Formal description

Tree to 13 m tall.  Bark dark brown to gray, shallowly furrowed.  Twigs reddish brown to dark brown, not flexuous, glabrous to rarely lightly puberulent.  Short shoots absent.  Leaves alternate, 45-180 mm long.  Stipular spines light brown to nearly black, sometimes light gray, symmetrical, flattened near the base, nearly flat to broadly U-shaped across the top, straight, stout and inflated, 30-55 x 10-20 mm near the base, glabrous to lightly puberulent.  Petiole adaxially grooved, 7-14 mm long, usually densely puberulent; petiolar glands (1-2)3 to 7, scattered along the petiole, sessile, narrow volcano-shaped to nearly columnar, apex nearly circular, 0.4-0.7 mm across, base 0.8-1.2 mm across, puberulent and lightly striateRachis adaxially grooved, 35-170 mm long, usually puberulent, a small narrow volcano-shaped to columnar gland located between each pinna pair.  Pinnae 10 to 18 pairs per leaf, 20-45 mm long, 5-12 mm between pinna pairs.  Petiolules 0.4-1.6 mm long.  Leaflets 12 to 30 pairs per pinna, opposite, 0.9-2.0 mm between leaflets, linear, 3.0-7.3 x 0.9-1.8 mm, glabrous, lateral veins not obvious, only one vein from the base, base oblique, margins lightly ciliate, apex obtuse; beltian bodies 0.5-1.0 mm long.  Inflorescence a densely flowered cylindrical spike nearly the same thickness throughout, 20-50 x 4-7 mm, in short, leafy racemose clusters with 1 to 3(4-8) spikes at each node in the axil of a reduced leaf.  Peduncles 10-20 x 0.6-1.1 mm, glabrous to lightly puberulent.  Involucre 4- lobed, located near the base to lower third of the peduncle, glabrous to lightly puberulent, persistent.  Floral bracts peltate, 0.4-0.7 mm long, apex circular and ciliate, deciduous.  Flowers sessile, yellowish; calyx 5-lobed, 0.5-1.1 mm long,lightly puberulent; corolla 5-lobed, 1.6-2.0 mm long, about twice as long as the calyx, lightly puberulent; stamen filaments 2.1-3.1 mm long, distinct; ovary glabrous, on a stalk 0.1 mm long.  Legumes black to dark brown, curved, elliptical in cross section, not constricted between the seeds, oblong, 40-100 x 8-12 mm, coriaceous, not striate, glabrous to lightly puberulent, eglandular, dehiscent along one sutures; stipe less than 5 mm long; apex acute, narrowing to a beak 10-15 mm long.  Seeds uniseriate, imbedded in a white pulp, dark brown, ellipsoid to rhomboid, slightly flattened, 4.5-7.8 x 3.3-5.0 mm, smooth; pleurogram oval to U-shaped, 2.1-3.4 mm across. Flowers in January to July.  Chromosome number:  Not determined.


Disturbed, usually wet sites of the pacific lowlands and foothills, usually below an altitude of 1300 m, from extreme southern Sinaloa, Mexico, south to Nicaragua (Seigler and Ebinger 1995).

Additional info

Vachellia hindsii is easily separated from all other ant-acacias by its stipular spines that are flattened at the base and nearly flat to broadly U-shaped across the top. It is morphologically very similar to V. collinsii and V. gentlei, both of which have relatively small leaves and cylindrical spikes, but differs in leaflets that lack obvious secondary venation.

Like Vachellia collinsii and V. cornigera, V. hindsii has an extensive geographic range.  Unlike these species, however, A. hindsii is restricted to the Pacific lowlands and foothills in Mexico and Central America. Before the existence of extensive agriculture in the region it was probably common along rivers, in deciduous and semideciduous forests, and in mangrove swamps (Janzen 1974). Presently it is a common element of shrubby regeneration, particularly in wetter habitats such as river banks, where it commonly forms dense thickets by means of root-sprouts.  As is typical of most ant-acacias that inhabit more open sites, Beltian body production in V. hindsii is relatively extensive. In this species, the small, elongated Beltian bodies are found commonly on more than 60% of the leaflets of developing leaves.

Vachellia hindsii is polymorphic with respect to HCN production (Seigler and Ebinger 1987), being reported acyanogenic by Rehr et al. (1973), whereas Seigler et al. (1978) found individuals that were strongly cyanogenic.  More recently Seigler and Ebinger (1995) found about 40% of 300 individuals tested positive for HCN production.  The cyanogenic glycoside in this species is proacacipetalin (Seigler et al. 1978).

Vachellia hindsii probably hybridizes with the ant-acacia V. collinsii.  It also has been reported to hybridize with non-ant-acacias of the V. macracantha complex, particularly V. pennatula (Vachellia x standleyi Safford), and V. campechiana (syn. Acacia cochliacantha) (Vachellia x gladiata Safford).

Flowering time


Representative specimens



La Unión:


San Miguel:

San Salvador:

San Vincente:



Alta Verapaz:





El Petén:


San Marcos:

Santa Rosa:





Isla Tigra: