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Acacia farnesiana (Linn.) Willd.


Acacia acicularis Willd., Acacia indica (Poiret) Desv., Acacia minuta (M.E. Jones) Beauch., Acacia minuta (M.E. Jones) Beauch. subsp. minuta, Mimosa acicularis Poiret, Mimosa farnesiana L., Mimosa indica Poiret, Pithecellobium acuminatum M.E. Jones, Pithecellobium minutum M.E. Jones, Poponax farnesiana (L.) Raf., Vachellia farnesiana Wight & Arn. 

Vernacular Names:


Aroma (Philippines), cassie, cassie flower, huisache (USA), mimosa bush (Australia), sweet acacia.

General Information


Sweet acacia is a tall rounded shrub or small tree 3 to 8 m tall, with single or multiple trunks, often forming thorny thickets. Leaves are bipinnate, with 1-6 pairs of leaf "branches" each with 5-20 pairs of narrow, rounded leaflets 4-8mm long. Leaves are sometimes more of a yellowish green than a pure green. Thorns are found in pairs at the base of each leaf and can grow up to 10 cm long. Golden yellow to orangish flowers are ball-shaped, about 1cm across, and grow on stalks, usually two stalks at the base of each leaf. Flowers develop into clusters of cigar-shaped pods, slightly curved and up to 6cm long. The pods are dark brown or black and woody at maturity, with seeds embedded in the pith. Pods do no split open and tend to stay on the plant for a length of time.

This tree is adapted to semiarid to arid environment. It originates most likely from Southern USA-Northern Mexico, but has spread over most tropical/subtropical regions, including Central America, South America (Brazil, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina), Africa (Egypt, Sudan, Rhodesia, Mozambique), Asia (India, the Philippines), Australia, the Pacific islands, etc. It is considered in many countries as an invasive species.

The significant variability of this species prompted some botanist to suggest that actually A. farnesiana is made of several closely related but different species, others see only varieties [1][2][3][4][5][6].  

Plant Part Used

A. farnesiana yields several products:

- An essential oil, that is obtained from the blossoms in the form of an absolute (the results of a solvent extraction procedure) called cassie, or cassie absolute. The cassie is used extensively in perfumery and occasionally in aromatherapy.

- A gum, which is similar to and considered as a substitute for acacia gum or gum arabic, and obtained after the tree was subjected to injury.

- An extract, which is tannin-rich.

Chemical Constituents

Constituents of the essential oil and terpenoids: 

The composition of this oil is dominated by the following compounds: methyl salicylate, anisaldehyde, geraniol, nonadecane, benzaldehyde, and geranial [7]. Various authors attempted to determine the minor compounds.[8][9][10][11] However, their results vary quite significantly as the oils were obtained from various parts of the world or according to the different procedures used.

Various non-volatile terpenes were also isolated from sweet acacia, including a novel diterpene glycoside, farnesiaside.[12]


In spite of the gum from A. farnesiana being used as a substitute for gum arabic, no detailed information is available on its exact composition. The only report on the polysaccharides from this plant actually focuses on the constituents of the mucilage from the pods. Its hydrolysis revealed the presence of arabinose, xylose, galactose, glucose, mannose in the ratio 3:2:1:2:3.[13]


The pods of A. farnesiana were shown to contain gallic acid and a few derivatives (ellagic acid, m-digallic acid, methyl gallate), various flavonoids (kaempferol, aromadendrin, diosmetin and naringenin), their glycosides and galloylglycosides.[14][15][16][17] Noteworthy is the presence of a farnisin, a novel flavone from a rare class lacking a 4-hydroxy substituent.[16]

The leaves were shown to contain various flavonoids, including a less frequent C-glucoside apigenin-6,8-bis(C-β-D-glucopyranoside).[18

Tannins were found in significant quantities in the leaves and pods but above all, in the bark of the tree.[19]


A novel sulphur-containing amino acid was isolated from the pods of sweet acacia [20] which accounts for the quite high production of CS2 by the roots of this plant.[21]

The HCN content of dried A. farnesiana foliage varies from 0.0 to 5.49 μmol/g depending on the individual plant and the season. Linamarin and lotaustralin are the major cyanogens in this species.[22][23]

Traditional Use:

Sweet acacia is occasionally used as folk remedy by populations in areas where it grows abundantly. However, it can hardly be considered as a medicinal plant of widespread usage. Its essential oil, either as a concrete or as an absolute, has never been used in traditional medicine. It was recently introduced in aromatherapy.[24]

In the Philippines the bark is used in the treatment of prolapsed rectum and as an injection for leucorrhoea. A poultice of the tender leaves is applied to ulcers and sores previously washed with the decoction. The roots are employed as a remedy for tuberculosis. The bark is used as an emetic in Java. In India, a decoction of the bark (1 in 20) together with ginger is an astringent wash for the teeth, and so is useful for bleeding gums, etc. In West Tropical Africa, the root, containing gum, is chewed for sore throat. In Costa Rica an infusion of the bark is astringent. The tender leaves are bruised with a little water and swallowed for the treatment of gonorrhoea. The pulverised, dried leaves are sometimes applied as a dressing to wounds. The leaves are similarly prescribed in affections of the bladder. A lotion of the leaves is applied for sores and for skin diseases, and internally for diarrhoea. The flowers are employed in Martinique as a stimulant and an antispasmodic. An ointment made from the flowers is used in Mexico as a remedy for headache, and their infusion for dyspepsia. A decoction of the flowers is used in Uruguay for diseases in women. The green fruit, which is very astringent, is employed as a decoction for dysentery and inflammation of the skin and mucous membrane, etc. The oil is employed as an adjunct to aphrodisiacs in spermatorrhoea.[25][26]

Pre-Clinical Data


Antimicrobial and antiparasitic activity

Tannin-rich extracts of leaves of A. farnesiana showed a significant but delayed bactericidal activity on Clostridium perfringens, but not on Escherichia coli and Salmonella typhimurium. When used in presence of germs cultivated on rumen fluid-agar medium, which contains rumen bacteria, protozoa and plant proteins, the activity of the extract is much reduced.[27] During the screening of 32 Mexican medicinal plants for their activity on Vibrio cholerae, extracts of A. farnesiana were shown to inhibit the growth, the enterotoxin production as well as the adhesion of the bacteria.[28] Researchers showed that ethanolic extracts of most parts of Egyptian sweet acacia could inhibit gram positive bacteria, the leaf extract could also inhibit gram negative bacteria, while most of the extracts had no effect on pathogenic fungi.[29] However, a leaf extract of Indian sweet acacia could inhibit fruit rotting fungi and was able to prolong the shelf life of mandarin oranges for 10 days.[30] A bark ethanolic extract from a Colombian specimen showed good in vitro activity on Plasmodium falciparum (IC50 = 1.3 g.mL-1), while the leaf extract was inactive. However none of these extracts was active in vivo.[31] All the above is consistent with the presence of high levels of tannins in the bark of this plant.

Anti-inflammatory activity

When administrated at the relatively high dose of 400 mg/kg i.p. to rats, methanol extracts of A. farnesiana were able to reduce carrageenan-induced paw oedema comparably or better than phenylbutazone (20 mg/kg) and nordihydroguaiaretic acid (12 mg/kg).[32] The flavonoids apigenin-6,8-di-C-b-d-glucopyranoside (vicenin-2) and linamarin which have been isolated from the leaves [18][33] were reported for its antioxidant and antioedematous properties which could account for the described effect.

Hypoglycaemic activity

Study reported a marked hypoglycaemic activity for the ethanolic extract obtained from the various parts of the sweet acacia.[29]


An extensive report on the toxicity of various products used in cosmetics and obtained from several Acacia species, including A. farnesiana concluded that, except for A. senegal, there was a lack of evidence to allow for any conclusion to be reached.[34]

As far as cassie is concerned, its high content of methyl salicylate should trigger great caution in its use. It certainly should not be used internally and only in moderate concentration and for a limited period of time when applied onto the skin.

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

No documentation

Adverse Effects in Human:

No documentation

Use in Certain Conditions

Pregnancy / Breastfeeding

No documentation

Age Limitations

Neonates / Adolescents

No documentation


No documentation

Chronic Disease Conditions

No documentation


Interactions with drugs

No documentation

Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents

No documentation



No documentation

Case Reports

No documentation

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  1) Botanical Info


  1. Arid Zone Trees, Acacia smallii (Acacia farnesiana), sweet acacia. Accessed on 10/11/07 from
  2. Queensland Government, Natural Resources and Water Department, Land protection, Mimosa bush, Acacia farnesiana. Accessed on 10/11/07 from
  3. Parrotta JA. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Acacia farnesiana (L.) Willd. - sweet acacia. Accessed on 10/11/07 from
  4. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Fact Sheet ST-5, November 1993, Acacia farnesiana, Sweet Acacia. Accessed on 10/11/07 from
  5. Miller J. University of Iowa, farnesiana var. farnesiana Accessed on 10/11/07 from var._farnesiana.htm.
  6. Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Greenhouses, University of Connecticut, Acacia farnesiana (L.) Willd. Accessed on 10/11/07 from http://florawww.eeb.
  7. Flath RA; Mon TR; Lorenz GC, Whitten J; Mackley JW. Volatile components of Acacia sp. blossoms. J. Agric. Food Chem., 31(6): 1167–1170, 1983.
  8. La Face D. Contributo alla conoscenza dell'essenza concreta di gaggia farnese (Acacia farnesiana Willd.). Helv. Chim. Acta, 33: 249-56, 1950.
  9. Demole E, Enggist P, Stoll M. Odorous absolute oils of cassie (Acacia farnesiana). Helv. Chim. Acta, 52: 24-32, 1969.
  10. El-Hamidi, and Sidrak, I. Investigation of Acacia farnesiana essential oil. Planta Medica, 18: 98-100, 1969.
  11. Ehret C, Maupetit P, Petrzilka M. New components from cassie absolute (Acacia farnesiana Willd.). Rivista Italiana EPPOS, (No. Spec., Journ. Int. Huiles Essent., 9th, 1990), 348-64, 1991.
  12. Sahu NP, Koike K, Banerjee S, Achari B, Jia Z, Nikaido T. A novel diterpene glycoside from the seeds of Acacia farnesiana. Tetrahedron Lett., 38: 8405-8408, 1997.
  13. Abd El-Wahab SM, Wassel GM, Aboutabl EA, Ammar NM, Afifi MS. Investigation of mucilage of the pods of Acacia nilotica L. Willd and Acacia farnesiana L. Willd growing in Egypt. Egyptian J. Pharm. Sci., 33: 319-25, 1992.
  14. El Sissi HI, El Ansari MA, El Negoumy SI. Phenolics of Acacia farnesiana. Phytochemistry, 12: 2303, 1973.
  15. El Sissi HI, Saleh NAM, El Negoumy SI, Wagner H, Iyengar MA, Seligmann O. Prunin-O-6''-gallate from Acacia farnesiana. Phytochemistry, 13: 2843-2844, 1974.
  16. Sahu NP, Achari B, Banerjee S. Dihydroxy methoxyflavone from seeds of Acacia farnesiana. Phytochemistry, 38: 1425-1426, 1998.  
  17. Barakat HH, Souleman AM, Hussein SAM, Ibrahiem OA, Nawwar MAM. Flavonoid galloyl glucosides from the pods of Acacia farnesiana. Phytochemistry, 51: 139-142, 1999.
  18. Thieme H and Khogali A. Isolation of apigenin-6,8-bis(C--D-glucopyranoside) from leaves of Acacia farnesiana. Pharmazie, 29: 352, 1974. 
  19. Rama Devi S and Prasad MNV. Tannins and related polyphenols from ten common Acacia species of India. Biores. Technol., 36: 189-192, 1991. 
  20. Gmelin R, Kjaer A, Olesen Larsen P. N-acetyl-L-djenkolic acid, a novel amino acid isolated from Acacia farnesiana Willd. Phytochemistry, 1: 233-236, 1962. 
  21. Piluk J, Hartel PG, Haines BL, Giannasi DE. Association of carbon disulfide with plants in the family Fabaceae. J. Chem. Ecol., 27: 1525-1534, 2001. 
  22. Seigler DS, Conn EE, Dunn JE, Janzen DH. Cyanogenesis in Acacia farnesiana. Phytochemistry, 18: 1389-1390, 1979. 
  23. Janzen DH, Doerner ST, Conn EE. Seasonal constancy of intra-population variation of HCN content of costa rican Acacia farnesiana foliage. Phytochemistry, 19: 2022-2023, 1980. 
  24. Watt M. Aromamedical. Oils hyped by aromatherapy suppliers to increase their sales. Accessed on 10/11/07 from hypedoils.htm. 
  25. Bureau of Plant Industry, Department of Agriculture, Republic of the Philippines. Acacia farnesiana (Linn) Willd.- Aroma. Accessed on 10/11/07 from
  26. Garcia-Alvarado JS. Traditional uses and scientific knowledge of medicinal plants from Mexico and Central America. J. Herbs Spices Med. Plants, 8: 37-90, 2001. 
  27. Sotohy SA, Mueller W, Ismail AMA. In vitro effect of Egyptian tannin-containing plants and their extracts on the survival of pathogenic bacteria. Deutsche Tieraerztliche Wochenschrift, 102: 344-348, 1995. 
  28. García S, Alarcón G, Rodríguez C, Heredia N. Extracts of Acacia farnesiana and Artemisia ludoviciana inhibit growth, enterotoxin production and adhesion of Vibrio cholerae. World J. Microbiol. Biotechnol., 22: 669–674, 2006. 
  29. Wassel GM; Abd El-Wahab SM, Aboutabl EA, Ammar NM, Afifi MS. Phytochemical examination and biological studies of Acacia nilotica L. Willd and Acacia farnesiana L. Willd growing in Egypt. Egypt. J. Pharm. Sci., 33: 327-40, 1992. 
  30. Tripathi P, Tripathi P, Dubey N K. Evaluation of some plant extracts in the management of blue mould rot of mandarin oranges. Indian Phytopathol., 56: 481-483, 2003. 
  31. Garavito G, Rincón J, Arteaga L, Hata Y, Bourdy G, Gimenez A, Pinzón R, Deharo E. Antimalarial activity of some Colombian medicinal plants. J. Ethnopharm., 107: 460–462, 2006. 
  32. Meckes M, David-Rivera AD, Nava-Aguilar V, Jimenez A. Activity of some Mexican medicinal plant extracts on carrageenan-induced rat paw edema. Phytomed., 11: 446–451, 2004. 
  33. Martínez-Vázquez M, Ramírez Apan TO, Lastra AL, Bye R. A comparative study of the analgesic and antiinflammatory activities of pectolinarin isolated from Cirsum subcoriaceum and linarin isolated from Buddleia cordata. Planta Med., 64: 134–137, 1998. 
  34. Wilbur J. Final report of the safety assessment of Acacia catechu gum, Acacia concinna fruit extract, Acacia dealbata leaf extract, Acacia dealbata leaf wax, Acacia decurrens extract, Acacia farnesiana extract, Acacia farnesiana flower wax, Acacia farnesiana gum, Acacia senegal extract, Acacia senegal gum, and Acacia senegal gum extract. Int. J. Toxicol., 24 (Suppl. 3): 75-118, 2005.

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