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  • Umbrella Thorn Acacia

    Latin Name: Acacia tortilis

    On Sir Bani Yas Island, the Umbrella Thorn Acacia is a favourite of the Mountain Gazelles and provides valuable shade for many other animals. Acacia tortilis is native to the savannah and east coast of Africa, and can be found not only on Sir Bani Yas Island, but the rest of the Middle East where extremely arid conditions exist. Usually small and wiry, the Acacia also carries highly aromatic white flowers in tight clusters. Seeds are produced in pods, which are flat and coiled into a spring shape. The tree is known to tolerate high alkalinity, drought, high temperatures, sandy and stony soils, strongly sloped rooting surfaces and sand blasting, which makes it perfect for Sir Bani Yas Island’s dry environment. Gum from the tree is edible and parts including roots, shoots and pods are also used in the UAE for a vast number of purposes including decorations, weapons, tools and medicines. 

  • Ghaf

    Latin Name: Prosopis cineraria

    There is a large Ghaf tree on the Island, at the central Majlis of the late UAE President Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, which can be viewed from the salt dome hilltops on Sir Bani Yas! These trees are generally small, evergreen and thorny, with slender branches and light bluish-green leaves. Its roots penetrate deep into the sub-soil water, helping the tree withstand the hottest winds and the driest seasons. Due to its extensive root system, which stabilizes shifting sand dunes, rural communities encourage the growth of this plant in their pastures. The tree also provides protection from the wind as well as shading. The pods of Prosopis cineraria are a favourite of the Blackbuck on the Island while its seeds are ground and used to make bread.

  • Frankincense

    Latin Name: Boswellia sacra

    On Sir Bani Yas Island, a Frankincense tree has been planted at the late UAE President Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s central Majlis. Frankincense has long been a part of the region’s rich culture, and the gum is often used for making incense. This small deciduous tree, which was mentioned in the Bible, is indigenous to South Eastern Arabia. Frankincense often has one or more trunks and its bark has the texture of paper, which can be removed easily. Its tiny five petal flowers are yellowish-white making it easy to spot! 

  • Toothbrush Tree

    Latin Name: Salvadora persica

    On Sir Bani Yas Island, this tree is a favourite of the Rock Hyrax and Giraffes, who especially seek out its small red berries. The Toothbrush Tree is a small tree with a crooked trunk. Its bark is cracked and whitish in colour. The colour of the tree’s root bark is similar to sand and the inner surfaces are an even lighter shade of brown. Salvadora persica is a popular chewing stick throughout the Indian subcontinent as well as the wider Muslim world. It has a pleasant fragrance and a warm, pungent taste. Many Muslims consider chewing it to be a practice recommended by the Prophet Mohammad. It has also been used as a toothbrush for hundreds of years. The broken branches resemble the brush and contain small amounts of fluoride that staves off tooth decay.

  • Christ’s thorn

    Latin Name: Ziziphus spina-christi

    Christ’s Thorn is a tropical, evergreen tree with small, brown edible fruits that are enjoyed by the Sand Gazelle on Sir Bani Yas Island. Its flowers, which are small, white and highly scented, bloom from July to August. However, its seeds ripen from October to December. This tree has been used in the UAE and the region for hundreds of years for its medicinal attributes. It was also mentioned in the Bible and the Qur´an.