Prairie acacia, Fern acacia, Prairie wattle, Whiteball acacia
Fabaceae (Pea Family)
Northington, David K.
Prairie wattle or fern
acacia is a 1-4 ft., rounded sub-shrub with feathery, deciduous
foliage and white, 1/2 in., globe-shaped flower
heads on long, upper axillary
stalks. This shrub’s thornless stems are graceful and wand-like. Round masses of creamy white or salmon-colored flowers resembling shaving brushes, rising on slender stalks from the axils of compound
leaves. This attractive native legume
has seeds that are rich in protein; the plant is readily eaten by livestock and decreases in abundance with heavy grazing. The species name, meaning most narrow in Latin, refers to the nature of the leaflets. This species resembles the taller Prairie Mimosa (Desmanthus illinoensis
), also a native perennial
with doubly pinnately compound
leaves, but not a woody shrub.
The foliage of fern
acacia is more impressive than its flowers. The thornless plant makes a good ground cover, colonizing by means of woody rhizomes. Form is variable. After the first hard frost, fern
acacia dies to the ground.
Image Gallery: 3 photo(s) available
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep
, TX Native Distribution:
Missouri and Kansas south to Mexico, east to Louisiana, west to New Mexico Native Habitat:
Prairie, Plains, Meadows, Pastures, Savannahs, Woodlands edge, Hillsides, Slopes, High elevation
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Sandy, Limestone-based, Calcareous;
Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay; Well-drained
BenefitUse Ornamental: A thornless acacia with lacy foliage for use as a ground cover and in prairie restorations.
Use Wildlife: Flowers attract butterflies.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Nectar Source: yes
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
is a larval host and/or nectar source for: