Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

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
Vachellia farnesiana

Huisache
Vachellia farnesiana

Huisache
Vachellia farnesiana

Huisache
Vachellia 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

More Plant Identification Questions

Mystery small tree with many large thorns
May 09, 2011 - In a small spot on over 2 acres, we have this strange tree/shrub. It is a single, straight stem with no branches, and has profuse, large thorns from top to bottom. At the top of the stem, the leaves...
view the full question and answer

Identifiation of Castela erecta ssp. texana as armagosa
June 27, 2007 - I am reading a document that includes the name Armagosa in a list of plants identified in a south Texas (Maverick Co.) vegetation analysis(shrub/sub-shrub layer). Unfortunately the list of species di...
view the full question and answer

Need to identify orange tube-like plants in Middleboro, MA
October 23, 2009 - Mr. Smarty Plants~ I live near some industrial companies, and lately I have been finding these orange plants, like tubes almost the top being brownish all over my backyard in the mulch. They have a...
view the full question and answer

Books on Lilies
August 27, 2006 - Dear Sir, I am looking for a book covering the Lily Family as a whole, i.e., it should preferably also discuss other Genera than Lilium only. I am especially interested in Lily members occurring in t...
view the full question and answer

Vine with wine-colored flowers in Washington County, TX
April 04, 2014 - I'm trying to identify a deep purple wine colored flowering vine in Washington County, Texas. It looks very similar to Texas wisteria, but it is something else. I've seen them growing in vineyards...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.