Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Acacia angustissima

Prairie acacia, Fern acacia, Whiteball acacia, Prairie wattle

Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Acacia angustissima (Prairie acacia)
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

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Bipinnate
Flower: Flowers in 1/2 inch globes
Size Class: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep


USA: AZ , AR , FL , KS , LA , MO , NM , OK , 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 Conditions

Water 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


Use 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
Attracts: Butterflies
Nectar Source: yes

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Acacia angustissima is a larval host and/or nectar source for:

(Sphingicampa raspa)
Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Last Update: 2015-11-13