Senegalia galpinii, the well-known monkey thorn or apiesdoring in Afrikaans and botanically previously known as Acacia galpinii, is a big deciduous tree that grows fast, reaching heights of around 30 m (SA Tree List No. 166).
In a good flowering year the tree may be covered in maroon to purple buds that open into a flourish of cream catkin flowers as on the tree in picture. This makes it a favourite for big gardens and parks in the summer rainfall areas of South Africa where frost is not a serious issue.
The bark is papery and flake in patches on medium size trunks and branches. Older boles have coarse surfaces and uneven fluting. Stem thickness growth may be faster in some vertical areas on the trunk where paler, yellowish colouring appears among darker, static sections. Young branches have smooth green bark. The wood is hard, but apparently not easy to work.
There are impressive stands of this tree in Mpumalanga and Limpopo in riparian bushveld; one near the De Hoop Dam. The trees tower over the surrounding bush, presenting a memorable sight when in blooming in springtime. During other years, like 2010 in Steelpoort, Mpumalanga, the favourable patterns of moisture and temperature in the early season may be lacking, resulting in hardly any flowers being seen.
The species distribution in South Africa is only north of the Vaal River; widespread there but more so in southern, tropical Africa as far as Tanzania.
The habitat of the monkey thorn is bushveld and riverbanks. The species is not considered to be threatened in its habitat early in the twenty first century (Coates Palgrave, 2002; Schmidt, et al, 2002; Van Wyk and Van Wyk, 1997; iNaturalist; www.plantzafrica.com; http://redlist.sanbi.org).