One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Any of various trees or shrubs having hooked thorns, typically spaced in pairs along the branches, especially (a) (more fully "hookthorn acacia") a common tree of grassland and bushveld in southern Africa, Acacia caffra (family Fabaceae), with rough grey bark and a twisted trunk; (b) the blackthorn of southern Africa, Acacia mellifera subsp. detinens, a low-growing shrub or tree of dry lowlands with closely-spaced dark thorns.
Early 19th century; earliest use found in William Burchell (1781–1863), explorer and naturalist. From hook + thorn, after South African Dutch haakdoorn.
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