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

 Native Plant Database

Acacia greggii

Catclaw acacia, Gregg acacia, Long-flower catclaw, Una de gato

Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Acacia greggii (Catclaw acacia)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy
A rounded and much-branched shrub to 5 ft. tall, (occasionally tree-like to 15 ft.) with twice-pinnate, gray-green foliage; creamy-white flowers; contorted pods; and cat claw-shaped thorns. The flowers occur in bushy, 2 in. spikes and are fragrant. Occasionally a small tree with a broad crown. One of the most despised southwestern shrubs. As indicated by the common names (including the Spanish, una de gato), the sharp, stout, hooked spines, like a cat’s claws, tear clothing and flesh.

The species name “greggii” was named for Josiah Gregg, (1806-1850). He was born in Overton County, Tennessee. In the summer of 1841 and again in the winter of 1841-42 he traveled through Texas, up the Red River valley, and later from Galveston to Austin and by way of Nacogdoches to Arkansas. He took note of Texas geology, trees, prevalent attitudes, and politics. At the same time, Gregg began compiling his travel notes into a readable manuscript. His “Commerce of the Prairies”, which came out in two volumes in 1844, was an immediate success. In 1848 he joined a botanical expedition to western Mexico and California, during which he corresponded with and sent specimens to the eminent botanist George Engelman in St. Louis. Subsequently, the American Botanical Society added the Latin name “greggii” in his honor to twenty-three species of plants. Gregg died on February 25, 1850, as a result of a fall from his horse.

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Root Type: Tap
Leaf Complexity: Bipinnate
Leaf Shape: Elliptic
Leaf: Dull-green
Flower: Flowers 6 mm. Stamens many.
Fruit: Red-brown 6-13 cm
Size Class: 12-36 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct


USA: AZ , CA , NV , NM , TX , UT
Native Distribution: S. & w. TX, w. to s.e. CA; adjacent Mex.
Native Habitat: Chaparral & brush country. Washes; stream banks; brushlands

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Caliche type, Well-drained, sandy or rocky soils.
Conditions Comments: Most often a shrub but can be trained to a 30 ft. tree in south Texas. Moderate growth rate. Sometimes produced scattered flowers again in August. Must have well-drained soils. Keep organic matter low or roots will rot. Tolerates alkalinity.


Use Ornamental: Hedges, Attractive, Blooms ornamental, Showy
Use Wildlife: Provides bird and rabbit shelter and food. Cover, Nectar-insects, Browse, Fruit-birds, Nectar-bees
Use Food: Catclaw honey (also known as Uvalde honey, from the Texas county of that name) is from the flowers of this and related species. Indians once made meal called pinole from the seeds.
Use Other: The hard, heavy wood with reddish-brown heartwood and yellow sapwood is used for souvenirs and locally for tool handles and fuel.
Warning: Twigs and foliage are poisonous to animals if eaten. Humans should generally avoid ingesting plants that are toxic to animals. Beware of the sharp, claw-like thorns.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes

Last Update: 2012-07-14