Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Texas Huisache, Sweet Acacia
Acacia smallii

Family: Mimosaceae
Genus: Acacia (a-KAY-see-uh) (Info)
Species: smallii (SMAL-ee-eye) (Info)

Synonym:Acacia minuta subsp. densiflora
Synonym:Vachellia densiflora

One vendor has this plant for sale.

7 members have or want this plant for trade.


12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)
15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)
20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)
10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)
12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:
Gold (Yellow-Orange)

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Flowers are fragrant
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From semi-hardwood cuttings
From seed; direct sow after last frost
Scarify seed before sowing

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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There are a total of 16 photos.
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6 positives
2 neutrals
2 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative CarrieLI54 On Mar 26, 2013, CarrieLI54 from Marion, TX wrote:

In the area NE of San Antonio, Huisache, or known as cat's claw by some of the locals, is a terrible overgrowth in pastures. Personally, I'm so allergic, just the smell of the blooms causes instant headaches and difficulty breathing. We have 30 acres and I have gotten rid of every single one of these nuisances wherever it has sprouted! When we had a mild snow in Feb. of 2012, the leaves did take a setback. Then with a few mild rains in the winter this year, this tree/shrub has never come back so abundantly. Also, we ride, train and teach horsemanship on our farm, these trees are wicked for horses and riders that may run through them. Earlier this Spring, a number of people I know were still complaining of cedar allergy when the cedar was finished. It makes me wonder if it may actually have been Huisache. I've also had many allergy tests over the years, not one of them ever tested for Huisache.

Neutral vossner On Mar 28, 2012, vossner from Richmond, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

While drought tolerant, our winter rains made these trees really stand out all over my area in spring 2012. They were located in wilderness type areas, I didn't notice any of these trees in residential gardens, though I'm sure there are. I don't grow it, primarily b/c of thorns.

Positive danceswithwolfspider On Jun 16, 2010, danceswithwolfspider from Roanoke, TX wrote:

As a young girl growing up in Laredo, Texas, we climbed the giant huisache tree in my firiend's yard. It had a triple trunk at least 4 feet in diameter at the base. One trunk leaned out over their yard about 8 feet off the ground. We could climb up from the base, shimmy out along the trunk, and sit up there. Don't remember any thorns. Perhaps the dad kept thorns trimmed away near the base. Loved that tree.

Neutral JohnTS71 On Oct 20, 2009, JohnTS71 from San Antonio, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Ok im going to give this tree a neutral rating only because it would take over my backyard if I let it grow and its a pain to trim this tree. It grows like a weed. I went on vacation and it rained a lot while I was away. I come back and it grew like a foot! It has thorns which have poked me repeatedly even though I try to be careful. If you got a big backyard then let it grow. If you are trying to get rid of it I would suggest removing the whole thing or it will come back and back and back. I wish I could keep it but the constant trimming is way to much work to do this just about every week in the spring/summer cause of its fast rate of growth. It started grown when I moved in (oct 07) and if I wouldnt have trimmed this it would be over 8 feet tall easily.

Positive nogottarancho On Jun 1, 2009, nogottarancho from Maricopa, AZ wrote:

seems almost indestructible; we give it plenty of water once a week and never seems to mind over water or under water. growing like a weed and still not bloomed...maybe next year; multiple trunks and we are letting it grow on its own, no pruning yet.

Positive eje812 On Jun 21, 2008, eje812 from Port Lavaca, TX wrote:

it grows in port lavaca(zone 9a) and can be found in abandoned and neglected areas. my favorite part of the trees are the sensitive leaves. i usually call them touch me nots because the leaves will close when disturbed by insects,animals,humans, and cold weather.

Positive frostweed On Aug 23, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Acacia smallii is Native to Texas and other States.

Positive htop On Jul 31, 2005, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have not grown this tree, but have observed it in its natural habitat and in landscape plantings.

Sweet Acacia (Texas huisache) is a native tree or large shrub that can be found in Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida. Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Puerto Rico, Texas and the Virgin Islands. In Texas, it grows in the South Texas Plains and Edwards Plateau regions. It tolerates both desert and lawn plantings, is fast growing to 15-30 feet, prefers full sun, is hardy to about 15 to 20 degrees F. and can be trained as a multiple- or single-trunked tree. It respouts readily when disturbed. Not picky about soil types, sweet acacia is easy to grow in any acid or alkaline soil. It is semi-deciduous to deciduous.

Sweet Acacias are popular and well-adapted shade trees for arid region landscapes being able to withstand some drought. It prefers moderate to slightly dry conditions so the soil should be allowed to dry between waterings; however, if subjected to long periods without water, it will survive, but the leaves will drop.

The canopy has a delicate, fern-like appearance due to the leaves being finely divided consisting of 10 to 20 pairs of tiny medium green, oval leaflets. With the resumption of new growth in spring when new leaves are being produced, they are shed. Sweet acacia is quite similar to twisted acacia; but, it has glands that are below the first pair of leaflets while twisted acacia has glands above the first pair of leaflets. The stems and branches are slightly rough, a rich chocolate brown or grey and possess long, sharp, multiple, slender, white to gray thorns. These thorns are conspicuous and readily visible. If desired, the thorns on the lower branches are easily removed with hand pruners.

From February to April, it produces numerous 1/4", yellowish-orange, fragrant flowers which look likepuff balls, They turn a beautiful rust color as the age. The blooms provide nectar for insects. Dark brown, glossy coated, cylindrical, 2 to 2 1/2 long and 1/4 to 3/8" in diameter seed pods appear after the blooming period. In the wild, white-tailed deer and javelina eat its fruit and quail, other birds and other wildlife eat the seeds. Quail, doves and other birds use this plant to nest, loaf, and as cover and small mammals sometimes forage sweet acacia. The wood has been used as firewood and posts and is employed in the production of other products including tanning, dying, ink, glue and perfume. Native Americans treated diaper rash and saddle sores with dried and powdered acacia leaves.

Sweet acacia may be propagated by cuttings or by seeds. Cuttings should be taken in summer and dipped in rooting hormone. Acacia seeds germinate in high numbers which some people find to be a real nuisance. Because of their hard shells, the seeds need some special treatment. Nick the bottom ends of the seeds need to be nicked with a knife or pair of clippers and placed in of hot (not boiling!) water. Sow after they have been soaked for two days.

Due to their desirable qualities which include fragrant blooms, shade, and dark green canopy, these trees are used in a wide array of landscape settings.The sweet acacias can be used as bank cover, courtyard, patio, streetcape, sidewalk, parking lot, highway beautification, landscape and individual accent trees. In the landscape, rapid tree growth and the fact that sweet acacia produces new branches all along the trunk make pruning a necessity especially during its first few years in order to establish the form and structure of the mature tree. This growth should be removed when it is " to 3/4" in diameter when it is easily cut with hand pruners or loppers. However, single and multiple trunked unpruned specimens best capture the natural beauty of the tree and improves resistance to wind damage. They have maximum bloom display and fragrance and are great trees in wildscapes, xeriscapes and in the background of rock gardens. It is among the most widely used desert trees.

Pests to which it is susceptible include flies, thrips, mites, scale and aphids. Occasionally anthracnose can infect leaves.

Positive Francoise On Mar 14, 2004, Francoise from San Marcos, TX wrote:

About 11 years ago, we bought a house with about 6 acres. Our home sits 400 feet from the road, and I wanted to grow something that I didn't have to worry about watering next to the road. We've left the first half of the lot, completely wild. So, I bought two huisache plants. They are about 20 feet tall now, and I only watered them when I planted them (Kind of hard hauling water that far). Today (3-14-04) I got out of my car (as I said about 400 feet away) and a smell that makes me think of heaven assailed me. It was the huisache just starting to bloom. I've been told that they are killed by frost, but will grow back again. I'm in zone 8b. Everything else I have ever planted has done poorly here. I LOVE my huisache, and as an extra bonus, my deer don't!!

Negative dbaker On Mar 14, 2004, dbaker wrote:

Plant grows in Port Lavaca, Calhoun Co.,TX.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Maricopa, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona (2 reports)
Queen Creek, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
Brawley, California
Pinellas Park, Florida
Brownsville, Texas
Cedar Creek, Texas
Laredo, Texas
Marion, Texas
Mason, Texas
Port Lavaca, Texas
Richmond, Texas (2 reports)
Rockport, Texas
San Antonio, Texas (2 reports)
San Marcos, Texas
Sanderson, Texas

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