En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - April 04, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Spring blooming Acacia farnsiana in Austin
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I've been seeing a large shrub, possibly tree, around Austin this spring - and it is covered is small ball-like orangish-yellow blooms - very tightly covered in these blooms. From the car, it looks sort of like a retama type form, but smaller leafed and a tighter, thicker growth habit. Is it somethingi native or an invasive species. I've seen it at the hike and bike trail and just around town.

ANSWER:

The plant you are seeing is Huisache Acacia farnesiana (sweet acacia), a member of the pea family (Fabaceae) which is distributed in the US across the contiguous southern states from Florida to California, and into Mexico. It is described as a tree/ shrub growing to 15-20 feet.

The Retama, Parkinsonia aculeata (Jerusalem thorn), that you mention is also a member of the pea family with yellow flowers, but as you can see from the pictures, the structure of the flowers and stems is different.

 

From the Image Gallery


Huisache
Acacia farnesiana

Retama
Parkinsonia aculeata

Huisache
Acacia farnesiana

Retama
Parkinsonia aculeata

More Trees Questions

Washingtonia palms need to be skirted?
August 31, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have five Washingtonia palms on my property that have never been skirted and look rather shabby. The interesting thing is that they have thrived (20-30 ft) here to begin with...
view the full question and answer

Dead portions on oak tree in Hutchinson KS
August 22, 2011 - I have an oak tree on the property I just moved into. One tree is healthy, the other has a dead side or almost dead. It did have some new green leaves on the dead branches but not many. What should...
view the full question and answer

Native magnolias in MD
March 16, 2011 - We live in Chevy Chase MD. Three tulip magnolias planted three years ago as part of a hedge died during the blizzard conditions we experienced the winter following their planting. This year as well w...
view the full question and answer

Healthy black walnut trees from volunteer saplings
May 07, 2008 - We just purchased a piece of property in the Texas Hill Country. There is a stump of a large black walnut tree that has four healthy looking samplings shooting up. Each is about 10 feet high. The o...
view the full question and answer

Mountain Laurel growing in East Texas
April 24, 2008 - I found a plant that looks like a Texas Mountain Laurel growing wild on a fenceline in east texas, near Canton. It is a small shrub/tree and has flowers like wisteria. It has "hairy" stems, they ar...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center