Robinia pseudoacacia:therapeutic properties and remedies of folk medicine

The Robinia, pseudoacacia or false acacia is a spontaneous, ornamental but also infesting plant, widespread in the Po Valley, with phytotherapic and culinary use. Very famous in folk medicine for the preparation of remedies and tonics thanks to its therapeutic properties, particularly indicated for gastric pyrosis or esophagitis, naturally fighting excessive acidity. It also helps to facilitate the proper functioning of the liver.

The Robinia, pseudoacacia or false acacia: use, properties and indications.

The scientific name of the robinia (also called gaggia or falsa acacia) is “Robinia pseudoacacia” and belongs to the Fabaceae family (also called “leguminous” according to the old nomenclature). It is native to South Eastern America and naturalized in Europe and other continents. Finally I managed to identify botanically, this very common and spontaneous plant in the Milanese hinterland as in the whole Po Valley. It is a strongly thorny plant that can reach 25 m (not from us), with imparipinnate leaves and white or cream flowers gathered in clusters, strongly odorous.

Black locust is confused with acacia because in common and popular language, it is referred to as acacia, but which belongs to another family and from us, the most widespread acacia is the mimosa (that of Women’s Day, so to speak ). Its rapid growth was initially favored by humans for its wood, as a protection for landslides and for its nectar properties (the acacia honey we consume is actually robinia) and as an ornamental plant, then some problems: it acts as an invasive species. In the Po Valley, it replaced the poplars and native willows that grew along the banks of the rivers. This is due to its rapid growth and easy taking root even though it has a modest longevity.

Folk medicine and acacia honey

In folk medicine, the bark was used as a laxative and tonic. The leaves were used as an emetic (which stimulates vomiting) and for the proper functioning of the liver (although leaves and bark, I repeat, contain an alkaloid considered toxic). The flowers, cooked and eaten, were used to attenuate eye inflammation. As I have already said, this plant produces an excellent honey, typically liquid, energizing, light amber in color, with a delicate taste that makes it particularly appreciated by children and also by those who do not like that honey with a stronger taste, like honey of chestnut or eucalyptus). Its richness in Levulose makes it tolerable, in small doses, by those suffering from mild diabetes. They are also attributed mildly laxative properties.

Its components and possible uses

This plant contains vitamins: A, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin). Minerals: calcium, phosphorus , iron, magnesium , sodium, potassium, zinc, essential oils. It also contains fiber, carbohydrates, proteins and glucosides. It has emollient properties, protects the mucous membranes from excessive acidity such as heartburn or esophagitis and in herbal medicine mother tincture is used to treat hoarseness and pharyngitis. The flowers are used as a relaxing herbal tea, in synergy with other plants. It is included as a component in the preparation of toothpastes, powders and pastes.

Curiosity and symbolism of the Robinia pseudoacacia

It owes its name to Henry IV and Louis XII in honor of Jean Robin, their gardener and herbalist, who was the first to introduce Robinia in Europe, bringing the seeds from one of his trips to America. Still alive in Paris, it is the oldest existing Robinia Pseudoacacia. According to an ancient tradition, the crown of thorns on the head of Christ was of acacia. The corpses of Egyptian kings and priests were cremated on acacia wood pyres. It has always been considered a symbol of vitality, purity and immortality. The term derives from the Greek and literally means “absence of evil”.

Robinia in the kitchen

The flowers can be cooked as sweet fritters, preparing a batter made with eggs, flour, sugar, milk, a pinch of salt (we avoid yeast) and a drop of oil. Some also add a little white wine. After washing the flowers well and drying them on a towel, open them well and add them to the batter. Fry not very large in spoonfuls and, for the sweet tooth … sprinkle them with icing sugar. They are really tasty and delicate. You can add to taste: raisins, apples …
There is also a savory version, obviously the sugar is replaced with salt to taste. The omelette is also excellent.
Liqueurs and jams are also made with flowers.

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