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Acacia farnesiana (L.) Willd.

Syn.: Mimosa farnesiana L.
Cassie, Huisache

Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.

  1. Uses
  2. Folk Medicine
  3. Chemistry
  4. Description
  5. Germplasm
  6. Distribution
  7. Ecology
  8. Cultivation
  9. Harvesting
  10. Yields and Economics
  11. Energy
  12. Biotic Factors
  13. References


Cassie perfume is distilled from the flowers. Cassie absolute is employed in preparation of violet bouquets, extensively used in European perfumery. Cassie pomades are manufactured In Uttar Pradesh and the Punjab. Pods contain 23 percent tannin, a glucoside of ellagic acid, and are used for tanning leather. Bark also used for tanning and dying leather in combination with iron ores and salts. In Bengal and West Indies, pods are used for a black leather dye. Gummy substance obtained from pods used in Java as cement for broken crockery. Gum exuding from trunk considered superior to gum arabic in arts. Trees used as ingredient in Ivory Coast for arrow poison; elsewhere they are used as fences and to check erosion. Wood is hard and durable underground, used for wooden plows and for pegs. Trees often planted as an ornamental (Duke, 1981). Morton (1981) says that the seeds, containing an unnamed alkaloid, are used to kill rabid dogs in Brazil.

Folk Medicine

Bark is astringent and demulcent, and along with leaves and roots is used for medicinal purposes. Woody branches used in India as tooth brushes. The gummy roots also chewed for sore throat. Said to be used for alterative, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, astringent, demulcent, diarrhea, febrifuge, rheumatism, and stimulant (Duke, 1981a). Morton (1981) notes that Guatemalans value the flower infusion as a stomachic. It is also used for dyspepsia and neuroses. Mexicans sprinkle powdered dried leaves onto wounds. The flowers are added to ointment, rubbed on the forehead for headache. Green pods are decocted for dysentery and inflammations of the skin and raucous membranes. Colombians bathe in the bark decoction for typhoid. Costa Ricans decoct rhe gum from the trunk for diarrhea, using the pod infusion for diarrhea, leucorrhea, and uterorrhagia. Panamanians and Cubans used the pod to treat conjunctivitis. Cubans use the pod decoction for sore throat. For rheumatic pains, West Indians bind bark strips to the afflicted joint. The root decoction has been suggested as a folk remedy for tubersulosis. According to Hartwell (1967–1971), the decoction of the root, used in hot baths, is said to help stomach cancer. A plaster, made from the pulp, is said to alleviate tumors.


Dried seeds of one Acacia sp. are reported to contain per 100 g: 377 calories, 7.0% moisture, 12.6 g protein, 4.6 g fat, 72.4 g carbohydrate, 9.5 g flber, and 3.4 g ash. Raw leaves of Acacia contain per 100 g: 57 calories, 81.4% moisture, 8.0 g protein, 0.6 g fat, 9.0 g carbohydrate, 5.7 g fiber, 1.0 g ash, 93 mg Ca, 84 mg P, 3.7 mg Fe, 12,255 mg b-carotene equivalent, 0.20 mg thiamine, 0.17 mg riboflavin, 8.5 mg niacin, and 49 mg ascorbic acid. Reporting 55% protein on a dryweight basis, Van Etten et al (1963) break down the amino acids as follows: lysine, 4.7 (g/16 g N); methionine, 0.9; arginine, 9.2; glycine, 3.4;. histidine, 2.3; isoleucine, 3.5; leucine, 7.5; phenylalanine, 3.5; tyrosine, 2.8; threonine, 2.5; valine, 3.9; alanine, 4.3; aspartic acid, 8.8; glutamic acid, 12.6; hydroxyproline, 0.0; proline, 5.1; serine, 4.1; with 76% of the total nitrogen as amino acids. Cassie has been reported to contain anisaldehyde, benzoic acid, benzyl alcohol, butyric acid, coumarin, cresol, cuminaidehyde, decyl aldehyde, eicosane, eugenol, farnesol, geraniol, hydroxyacetophenone, methyleugenol, methyl salicylate, nerolidol, palmitic acid, salicylic acid, and terpineol (Duke, 1981). The leaves contain lipids, carotenoids, alkaloids, and reducing and non-reducing sugars (Morton, 1981). El Sissi et al (1973) isolated and identified from pods, seven polyphenols (gallic acid, ellagic acid, m-digallic acid, methyl gallate, kaempferol, atomadendrin, and narigenin). Also they found narigenin-7-glucoside and naringenin-7-rhamnoglucoside (naringin), as well as naringenin, glucose, and gallic acid.


Thorny bush or small tree, 8 m tall; bark light brown, rough; branches glabrous or nearly, purplish to gray, with very small glands; stipules spinescent, usually short, up to 1.8 cm long, rarely longer, never inflated; leaves twice pinnate, with a small gland on petiole and sometimes one on the rachis near top of pinnae; pinnae 2–8 pairs, leaflets 10–12 pairs, minute, 2–7 mm long, 0.75–1.75 mm wide, glabrous, leathery; flowers in axillary pedunculate heads, calyx and corolla glabrous, scented; pod indehiscent, straight or curved, 4–7.5 cm long, about 1.5 cm wide, subterete and turgid, dark brown to blackish, glabrous, finely longitudinally striate, pointed at both ends; seeds chestnut-brown, in 2 rows, embedded in a dry spongy tissue, 7–8 mm long, ca 5.5 mm broad, smooth, elliptic, thick, only slightly compressed; areole 6.5–7 mm long, 4 mm wide (Duke, 1981a).


Both A. farnesiana and its var cavenia are extensively cultivated in and around Cannes, southern France, which is the center for production of the perfume. The variety seems to be more resistant to drought and frost. Assigned to the South American Center of Diversity, cassie or cvs thereof is reported to exhibit tolerance to drought, high pH, heat, low pH, salt, sand, slope, and Savanna. (2n = 52, 104). (Duke, 1981a).


Probably native to tropical America, but naturalized and cultivated all over the world, e.g. Africa (Rhodesia, Mozambique) and Australia. Planted in coastal areas of Ghana and elsewhere in tropical Africa. Grown throughout India, and often planted in gardens (Duke, 1981a).


Thrives in dry localities and on loamy or sandy soils where it may serve as a sand binder. Will grow on loose sandy soil of river beds, on pure sand in plains of Punjab. Requires a dry tropical climate. Ranging from Warm Temperate Dry through Tropical Desert to Moist Forest Life Zones, cassie is reported to tolerate annual precipitation of 6.4–40.3 dm (mean of 20 cases 14.0 dm), annual mean temperature of 14.7–27.8°C (mean of 20 cases = 24.1°C), and pH of 5.0–8.0 (mean of 15 cases = 6.8) (Duke, 1981).


Propagated mainly from seed and cuttings. Seeds germinate readily and plants grow rapidly. Plants do not require much cultivation, watering or care (Duke, 1981a).


Trees begin to flower from the third year, mainly from November to March. Perfume is extracted from the flowers in form of concrete or pomade. Macerated flowers are placed in melted purified natural fat and allowed to stand for several hours. They are then replaced by fresh flowers and the process repeated until the fat is saturated with perfume. Fat is then melted, strained and cooled. This constitutes the pomade. Odor is that of violets but more intense. Absolute is prepared by mixing pomade with alcohol (2–3 kg to about 4 laters) and allowed to stand for 3–4 weeks at about -5°C. The alcohol is then separated and distilled over. The extract obtained is an olive-green liquid with strong odor of cassie flowers (Duke, 1981a).

Yields and Economics

Mature trees yield up to 1 kg of flowers per season. Southern France (Cannes and Grasse) is main production center for cassie flower perfume. India and other Eastern countries produce much for local use (Duke, 1981a).


Though omitted by the recent fuelwood books (NAS, 1980; Little, 1983), this species should be considered along with other Acacias for its energy potential. Other species yield fuelwood at rates of 5–20 m3/ha/yr, but lower yields may prevail in very humid environments. Of course the straggly bushy forms would not make very good fuel sources. Morton (1981) notes that the wood is used for fuel. Allen and Allen (1981) note that it fixes nitrogen.

Biotic Factors

Fungi reported on this plant include: Camptomeris albizziae, Clitocybe tabescens, Hypocrea borneensis, Lenzites palisoti, L. repanda, Phyllachora acaciae, Phymatotrichum omnivorum, Polystictus flavus, Ravenelia austris, R. hieronymi, R. siliquae, R. spegazziniana, Schizophyllum commune, Systingophora hieronymi, Tryblidiella rufula, and Uromycladium notabile. It may also be parasitized by the flowering plants Dendrophthoe falcata and Santalum album (Duke, 1981a).


Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
Last update December 16, 1997