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

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Wednesday - March 21, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Trees
Title: Identity of flowering yellow trees in Austin
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

There are numerous flowering yellow trees in my Austin neighborhood. Are they mesquite or goldenball lead trees? They are quite fragrant, like a new bar of soap.

ANSWER:

The trees you are seeing are probably Acacia farnesiana (Huisache).  It is possible that Leucaena retusa (Goldenball leadtree) is blooming, but they generally don't bloom until April.  This, however, has been an unusual year because of the very mild winter—many plants are blooming earlier than they normally do.  The flowers of the two look similar, but those of the goldenball lead tree tend to be about 2 cm. in diameter; while those of huisache are closer to 1 cm. in diameter.  The blooms of both trees are fragrant.  The huisache has thorns and the goldenball lead tree does not.  Prosopis glandulosa (Honey mesquite) is also blooming now but its flowers are a paler shade of yellow and have a different shape.  The leaves of all three trees are similar.

 

From the Image Gallery


Huisache
Acacia farnesiana

Huisache
Acacia farnesiana

Huisache
Acacia farnesiana

Huisache
Acacia farnesiana

Goldenball leadtree
Leucaena retusa

Goldenball leadtree
Leucaena retusa

Goldenball leadtree
Leucaena retusa

Goldenball leadtree
Leucaena retusa

Honey mesquite
Prosopis glandulosa

Honey mesquite
Prosopis glandulosa

Honey mesquite
Prosopis glandulosa

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