Acacia angustissima (Mill.) Kuntze
Prairie acacia, Fern acacia, Whiteball acacia, Prairie wattle
Fabaceae (Pea Family)
USDA Symbol: ACAN
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.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Bipinnate
Flower: Flowers in 1/2 inch globes
Size Class: 1-3 ft.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep
DistributionUSA: AR , AZ , 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 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)
Larval HostLearn more at BAMONA
PropagationPropagation Material: Seeds , Softwood Cuttings
Description: Propagate by scarified seed or softwood cuttings.
Seed Collection: Collect in late summer to early fall when seeds are firm, filled out, and dark brown.
Seed Treatment: Scarification.
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: To look its best, may require waterings during droughts.
Mr. Smarty Plants says
Wispy plant to put behind a waterfall
May 30, 2008
Needing a 10-20ft wispy ______ to plant behind our waterfall to help block out road noise. We live in Austin. I've looked at the Mexican weeping bamboo but are there other options?
view the full question and answer
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Texas Discovery Gardens - Dallas, TX
Tohono Chul Park, Inc. - Tucson, AZ
Brackenridge Field Laboratory - Austin, TX
BibliographyBibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 355 - Landscaping with Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest (1991) Miller, G. O.
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 328 - Wildflowers of Texas (2003) Ajilvsgi, Geyata.
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Web ReferenceWebref 1 - Benny Simpson's Texas Native Shrubs (2002) Texas A&M University Agriculture Program and Leslie Finical, Dallas Arboretum
Webref 2 - Fire Effects Information System (2008) U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory
Webref 3 - Flora of North America (2014) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Acacia angustissima in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Acacia angustissima in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Acacia angustissima
MetadataRecord Modified: 2015-11-13
Research By: TWC Staff