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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.

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Monday - July 26, 2010

From: Ponder, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Does goldenball leadtree (Leucaena retusa) have thorns?
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I have a plant that I am told is a native Texas plant, but the person I got it from could not remember its name. They said it was very hardy and drought tolerant. It looks a little like goldenball lead tree, but it has a few thorns. Do leadball trees have thorns?


The only reference I could find that says Leucaena retusa (goldenball leadtree) has thorns is from the University of Florida IFAS Extension, but then another publication from the University of Florida says it has NO thorns.  I think that the first one that says it has thorns is a mistake.  I think that they just left the "no" out of the text.

Perhaps the plant is Acacia farnesiana (sweet acacia).  Its leaves look like those of the goldenball leadtree (although smaller), it has yellow blossoms that are similar and it does have thorns.

If you don't think that this is the tree you have, send us photos and we will do our best to identify it.   Please visit Mr. Smarty Plants' Plant Identification page to read instructions for submitting photos.

Here are photos from our Image Gallery:

Leucaena retusa

Leucaena retusa

Acacia farnesiana

Acacia farnesiana



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