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Sweet acacia
Vachellia farnesiana var. farnesiana

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

General Landscape Uses: An accent flowering shrub in sunny locations. Also an effective and colorful addition to spiny barrier plantings.

Ecological Restoration Notes: Apparently native primarily along the west coast; otherwise, known mostly from disturbed uplands.

Availability: Widely available.

Description: Medium shrub to small tree with long zigzag branches armed with stout pairs of stipular spines. Leaves thin and feathery, light green.

Dimensions: Typically, 8-12 feet in height; rarely to about 20 feet in South Florida. Often as broad as tall or broader.

Growth Rate: Moderate to fast.

Range: Florida, where scattered mostly along the west coast; West Indies, Mexico, Central America, South America and the Old World Tropics. Probably now spreading from cultivated plants.

Plant Map Map of select IRC data from peninsular Florida.

Habitats: Coastal hammocks, thickets and disturbed uplands.

Soils: Moist to dry, well-drained limestone or calcareous sandy soils, with or without humusy top layer.

Nutritional Requirements: Moderate to low.

Salt Water Tolerance: Low; does not tolerate long-term flooding by salt or brackish water.

Salt Wind Tolerance: Moderate; grows near salt water, but is protected from direct salt spray by other vegetation.

Drought Tolerance: High; does not require any supplemental water once established.

Light Requirements: Full sun.

Flower Color: Yellow.

Flower Characteristics: Showy, in rounded head-like clusters; very fragrant.

Flowering Season: All year; peak in winter.

Fruit: Long brownish 2-3" pod (legume) with a pronounced, curved tip.

Wildlife and Ecology: Nectar plant for red-banded hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops) butterflies. Attracts pollinators.

Horticultural Notes: Propagated by seed and cuttings. Germination may be speeded up by treating seed with hot water. For cuttings, intermediate (not green, not mature) wood is best.

References: Ward & Ing (1997), Nelson (2003).

Comments: The flowers are used to make a perfume. See also the Florida Wildflower Foundation's Flower Friday page.

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Beryn Harty

Copyright by: Beryn Harty

Copyright by: Beryn Harty

Other data on Vachellia farnesiana var. farnesiana available from:

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