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Acaciella angustissima (Prairie acacia)
Northington, David K.

Acaciella angustissima

Acaciella angustissima (Mill.) Britton & Rose

Prairie Acacia, Fern Acacia, Whiteball Acacia, Prairie Wattle, White-ball Acacia

Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Synonym(s): Acacia angustissima

USDA Symbol: ACAN11

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

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

6 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Bipinnate
Fruit Type: Legume
Size Notes: Up to about 4 feet tall.
Flower: Flowers in 1/2 inch globes.

Bloom Information

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


USA: 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, Savannas, 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)

(Sphingicampa raspa)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA


Propagation 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.

From the National Organizations Directory

According 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


Bibref 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 Reference

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.
Webref 1 - Texas Native Shrubs (2002) Texas A&M University Agriculture Program and Leslie Finical, Dallas Arboretum

Additional resources

USDA: Find Acaciella angustissima in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Acaciella angustissima in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Acaciella angustissima


Record Modified: 2021-10-12
Research By: TWC Staff

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