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While visiting the Appalachian mountains of North America in 1601, Jean Robin, the gardener of the King of France and a specialist in medicinal plants, was given a seed which he planted on the Place Dauphine in Paris. Even today, we can admire the magnificent tree which grew from that seed, which was later transplanted to the Jardin des Plantes in Paris. The wild acacia has beautiful bunches of white flowers, rich in nectar which attracts bees, and acacia honey has a particularly subtle taste, and is widely sought after.
Originally from North America, this tree stands between 10 and 30 metres in height, and has a thick trunk with deeply fissured bark. The branches which grow from the lower reaches of the tree are smooth. The leaves are light green and large, alternate, entire, imparipinnate, oval, with between nine and twenty-five leaflets at their base. The two stipules are transformed into thorns. The creamy-white flowers give off a penetrating scent, and form hanging bunches, and hairless brown pods containing between ten and twelve seeds. Its roots are vigorous creepers bearing basal shoots, and consolidate well-drained soils, which is the terrain preferred by acacias.
FRAGRANCE AND FLAVOUR: The scent of an infusion of acacia reminds us of the scents of autumn, such as we notice during a walk in the forest on a misty September morning. Its taste is rather sweet, like that of the pleasant scent of the clover flower. The subtlety of its flavour is rather like a petal being placed on the tongue, and gently invading the palate. Its after-taste is rather woody.
USES: Infusions, acacia fritters, or syrup.