Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - March 23, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Trees
Title: Distinguish between Huisache and Goldenball Leadtree
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How do you distinguish between Huisache (Acacia farnesiana) and Goldenball Leadtree (Leucaena retusa)? Thanks!

ANSWER:

We found a couple websites that give very good descriptions of the structure of both, for similarities and differences. Acacia farnesiana (sweet acacia) is covered in this Forest Service Department of Agriculture article. Leucaena retusa (littleleaf leadtree) has information from the same source.

Similarities: Both have feathery, finely-divided leaflets, round, spreading, open crown, alternate bipinnately compound leaves, leaflet margin entire, venation pinnate, leaflet blade length less than 2", with no showy Fall color.

Differences: Acacia farnesiana (sweet acacia) is semi-evergreen, has slightly rough stems that are chocolate brown or gray, linear shape leaves, leaf color green, and thorns.

Leucaena retusa (littleleaf leadtree) is evergreen, has elliptic (oval) leaves, bark that is cinnamon-colored and flaky, leaf color blue-green to bright green and no thorns.

There are other differences in when and how each plant blooms, but I think the thorns are the clincher. Here is a page of images of the Huisache and a page of images of the Goldenball Leadtree.


Acacia farnesiana

Acacia farnesiana

Leucaena retusa

Leucaena retusa

 

 

More Trees Questions

Growth rate of mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa)
August 16, 2009 - What is the growth rate of Mesquite? How long does it take for Mesquite to achieve a 4-6 inch wide trunk? I can't seem to find this information.
view the full question and answer

Native trees of Hornsby Bend in Austin, TX
April 10, 2013 - We are looking for a list of the trees occurring along and in the vicinity of the Colorado River at Hornsby Bend circa 1820.
view the full question and answer

Small to medium drought-tolerant trees for Southern California
June 01, 2012 - I am looking for drought tolerant trees to line one side of our 70 foot driveway. We live in Southern California. Currently, we have queen palms, but I would like something more native or drought to...
view the full question and answer

Leaves on maple turning red in June in Pittsburgh PA
August 01, 2010 - We live in PA and have a medium sized maple tree in our back yard. It is not a red maple. This year, in June, the very top of the tree's foliage turned bright red. This bright red started at the t...
view the full question and answer

Why are large numbers of leaves falling from my Live Oak trees in Driftwood, TX?
June 24, 2015 - Today is June 6, 2015 and I have noticed that for the last week and a half, only a few live oaks out of many, have been losing large numbers of green leaves and turning brown on the ground. I cannot ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.