Botanical: Robinia pseudacacia
Family: N.O. Leguminosae
In common language, the term Acacia is often applied to species of the genus Robinia which also belongs to the family Leguminosae, though to a different section.
R. pseudacacia, the False Acacia or Locust Tree, one of the most valuable timber trees of the American forest, where it grows to a very large size, was one of the first trees introduced into England from America, and is cultivated as an ornamental tree in the milder parts of Britain, forming a large tree, with beautiful pea-like blossoms.
The timber is supposed to unite the qualities of strength and durability to a degree unknown in any other kind of tree, being very hard and close-grained. It has been extensively used for ship-building, being superior for the purpose to American Oak, and is largely used in the construction of the wooden pins called trenails, used to fasten the planks to the ribs or timber of ships. Instead of decaying, it acquires an extraordinary degree of hardness with time. It is also suitable for posts and fencing and other purposes where durability in contact with the ground is essential, and is used for axle-trees and other mechanical purposes, though not for general purposes of construction.
The roots and inner bark have a sweetish, but somewhat offensive and nauseating taste, and have been found poisonous to foraging animals.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The inner bark contains a poisonous proteid substance, Robin, which possesses strong emetic and purgative properties. It is capable of coagulating the casein of milk and of clotting the red corpuscles of certain animals.
Tonic, emetic and purgative properties have been ascribed to the root and bark, but the locust tree is rarely, if ever, prescribed as a therapeutic agent.
Occasional cases of poisoning are on record in which boys have chewed the bark and swallowed the juice: the principal symptoms being dryness of the throat, burning pain in the abdomen, dilatation of the pupils, vertigo and muscular twitches; excessive quantities causing also weak and irregular heart action.
Though the leaves of Robinia have also been stated to produce poisonous effects careful examination has failed to detect the presence of any soluble proteid or of alkaloids, and by some the leaves have been recorded as even affording wholesome food for cattle.
The flowers contain a glucoside, Robinin, which, on being boiled with acids, is resolved into sugar and quercetin.