Occurring in dry woodland and arid stony or sandy areas, this is one of the major tree species of the desert regions of Southern Africa. This immensely important species has a great range over the Northern Cape and North-East province. It varies from a small, spiny shrub barely 2m high to a tree up to 16m tall with a wide, spreading crown. The seed pods are characteristic in shape and colour. This tree provides valuable shade and an essential micro-habitat, e.g. the home of sociable weavers, in the thirst-lands of the far north.
The Camel Thorn is an incredible resource to both wildlife and humans who survive in often harsh conditions. Traditionally, the gum and bark have been used by local tribes to treat coughs, colds, nosebleeds and even tuberculosis. The roasted seeds are used as a coffee substitute.
The Topnaar of Namibia made a powder from the inner bark that was used to perfume the body and the home. Local farmers say the pods are an excellent fodder source and its use as a good firewood is widely renowned.