This species is widely distributed inland, from the Northern Cape through to Limpopo Province. It also extends to Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and to central Africa.
The pods are useful fodder for cattle and are favoured by wild animals in Africa , especially elephants who chew the pods and disperse the seed in their dung. The timber is strong and is highly prized for firewood.
Dry powdered pods can be used to treat ear infections. The gum can be used for the treatment of gonorrhoea and the pulverized, burned bark can be used to treat headaches. The root can be used to treat toothache. To treat tuberculosis, the root is boiled for a few minutes and the infusion is swirled around in the mouth and spat out.
It is believed that lightning will strike at the Acacia erioloba more readily than other trees. The seeds can be roasted and used as a substitute for coffee; the gum is also eaten by humans as well as animals. The root bark is used by the Bushmen to make quivers. Many wild animals love to eat the pods and will rest in the dense shade, in the heat of the African sun.Ecology
The camel thorn is a competitive species that can displace preferred vegetation. It has been assessed as potentially very highly invasive in Australia : climate predictions indicate that it could occupy large inland areas of northern Australia if allowed to spread.
This is a relict of the parental stock of African Acacia species and is one of the major trees, and frequently the only sizeable tree of the deserts of southern Africa . It is a long-lived plant that grows on sand in areas with an annual rainfall of less than 40 mm to 900 mm, and tolerates hot summer temperatures and severe frosts. In very dry areas Acacia erioloba occurs along watercourses or where underground water is present. The taproot can descend to 60 m, providing access to deep ground water.