About one hundred species of Acacia are native to North America, South America, Asia, and Australia. They are shrubs and trees. Small’s acacia is native to southwestern United States and northern Mexico. It is a medium-sized tree that can grow to about 35 feet tall. The bark is deeply furrowed in older trees. Tiny yellow flowers are held in fragrant, spherical clusters. Trees are covered with these flowers in late winter and early spring. Fruits are thick bean-like pods. Saplings have long, needle-like spines but older trees have only a pair of short spines at leaf nodes. It is evergreen most winters but will drop leaves briefly when temperatures fall to the lower 20’s F.
In nature, the fruits (pods) of Small’s acacia are food for wildlife. The wood is reportedly used for fence posts and the plant has some local medicinal uses. Small’s acacia is so closely related to Acacia farnesiana that the two species were once lumped together as one. Many references reflect continued confusion about the relationship of these two species.
Light: full sun
Water: very drought tolerant
Soil: a well-drained soil, no other special requirements
Small’s acacia trees have grown and flowered at the Jacksonville Zoo for several years but the plant is not well-known in this area. It is easily grown from seed and young plants grow rapidly. It requires a sunny location with a well-drained soil.