>> Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Okay, so my post title is vague. Besides a slew of restaurants having this name (including one here in St. Thomas), it is also the genus to a group of plants that covers five different phyla! It's also a common name for tons of different plants, adding to the confusion even more. To attempt simplification, the genus has been split into five genera, but still.
Here on island, people call all sorts of things Acacia (pronounced CASH-ah, locally). Acacia gets its name from the Greek word akis, meaning sharp point. Many of the plants here catch you. This is an acacia of some sort to the right that I am unknowingly riding into. Good shot, Nick! I got a face full of thorns.
So what is the point of all this? Well, in Kenya, they have found a use for one of the native varieties. Faidherbia albida is said to be able to nourish the depleted soils on farms due to the high levels of organic nitrogen the plants leech into the soil. Apparently it is something that has been well studied. Half a million farmers in Tanzania began using the trees for various crops. Maize grown in the canopy of these trees had a 280% increase in yield. That is monumental! It even increased the yields of sorghum, millet, cotton and more. This could greatly affect how much food is grown and really aid in the quality of life for people everywhere.