The A. xanthophloea has dark green, fern-like leaves. They are bi-pinnately compound with 4-7 pairs of pinnae (each with 10-17 pairs of fine leaflets), and can reach 6-10 cm long. A pulvinus (a conspicuous thickening at each petiole) allows the leaves to close at night or during extreme heat. White stipular 2-5 cm long spines are arranged in pairs at the leaf bases. Flowers form in golden balls 1-2 cm in diameter. Lime green bark is covered with a sulphur-like powder that easily rubs off. This aids in protecting the bark from sun.
Life Form Description:
In its native regions, the Fever Tree can form dense stands in depressions and shallow pans where underground water is present or surface water collects. People living or resting beneath the trees often contracted a fever presumably from the mosquitoes that also frequented these wet environments and the name seemed appropriate. In Africa, the Fever Tree is a resource for a wide variety of predators and foraging. Branches and leaves provide food for elephants and giraffes. The nectar rich yellow flowers are a strong insect attractant and are also eaten by monkeys and grey louries (on the UA campus the tree’s height prevents local monkeys from reaching the flowers). ======================================================================= Natural History of the UA Campus Arboretum Specimen: The tree is also a popular site for birds’ nests since the spines offer extra protection. The first tree on campus was planted in 1980's. At the University of Arizona, it is taking advantage of a reflective parking lot and a relatively warm campus microclimate. Chuck Raetzman, former head of the UA Grounds Services, remembers planting several of Warren Jones’s trial trees on that site along the parking lot. Warren had germinated seeds at the University’s Campus Agriculture Center in Tucson, then grew them until they were sturdy enough to be installed. It was subsequently produced in the late 1980's by Desierto Verde with many of the field grown seedlings finally making their way back to the Heart of Africa exhibit in Escondido several years later. (ARIDUS; vol. 11 No. 4 Dec 1999).
Propagation by seed is relatively easy with some scarification assisting in germination percentage. With adequate water the species is a moderate to fast grower, adding over a meter per year in container production and in the field.
The wood is dense and is of high quality if allowed to season. It is used for making boxes and crates. The bark is said to be used for treating fevers and eye complaints.