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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.

 

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