Natives For Your Neighborhood is a labor of love and commitment. If you use this website, help us maintain and grow it with your tax-deductible donation.


Please scroll to the bottom for more images.
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.

 Map of ZIP codes with habitat recommendations from the Monroe County Keys north to Martin and Charlotte counties.

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:

Resources Links:
Find Native Plants!

Acknowledgements and past sponsors

Become a sponsor!

Major Sponsor:

Emergent Sponsors:

Canopy Sponsors:
Herbaceous Sponsors:

Jay Bird - @BotanizingBirdingButterflies

Florida Native Plant Nursery