Monday, March 23, 2009


This time of year, in Southern California, there's a tree you see around that suddenly bursts out with a golden yellow brilliance of bloom.

The genus Acacia has over 1300 species, and is native to Australian, Africa, Asia and the Americas. They have yellow or cream flowers, and - as fits member of the legume family - they produce pea-like pods of seeds. They don't have pea-like flowers, however, but fuzzy little yellow balls of fluff. They are related to mimosas. Acacia wood is quite hard, and prized by woodworkers for its beautiful grain and its strength. Many acacias have large and fierce thorns growing on their trunks or on the branches among the leaves.

You can roughly divide them into two groups - one with long, narrow individual leaves, and the other with ferny leaves divided into compound pinnates.

Just south of the traffic light in the middle of the Canyon, there's a huge tree growing that is in spectacular bloom right now. I pulled over in the morning fog Friday to take its picture. Its wide canopy arches over the small cottage behind the fence.

On my street there are several acacias - this Acacia longifolia grows in my neighbor's yard and arches over my driveway. This type of acacia grows fast and gets leggy, and when it blooms sometimes the blossoms hold the weight of dew and spring rains, and bend it so low it sweeps my windshield.

Down the road from my house, this Acacia tree is probably Acacia dealbata, also called the Silver wattle. It's native to Australia, like a similar tree, Acacia baileyana, called the cootamundra wattle.

If you like these cheerful blooms, and think you might want to plant one, you should think twice. Consult your local horticulturalist.

Here in Southern California, acacias are beautiful nuisances. The California Invasive Plant Council advises that certain acacias species, including dealbata and longifolia, are invasive, spreading by seed and by root suckers.

That's probably how this pretty specimen came to be found in the wild mountain parkland, on the boulevard's "S" curves.

There are some acacias species native to California and the Southwest. If you want a bit of spring gold, but don't want to bring invasive species into your garden, check out the Theodore Payne Foundation nursery for the Catclaw Acacia, a California native.


CaShThoMa said...

Fabulous photos; love that yellow; screams spring!

Daisy Deadhead said...


Anonymous said...

Love the photos. It's a shame they are invasive. I had mixed feelings when the parks department started cutting down and removing all the Eucalyptus around SF. Years later, the natives have come back and I have to admit, it's better.

mo.stoneskin said...


If I told you that we had some dead Acacia on our balcony would you have to kill me? ;)

It wasn't deliberate, they died a slow death unfortunately.

Tristan Robin said...

geesh - I love that vibrant yellow!!!

Unknown said...

Wow. They are very beautiful. Isn't it funny that something so pretty is a pest? Good life lesson! I still have to read your post about your heritage! It is on my list of things to do when I can savor and relax : ). I just love how you write!

Nihal said...

Oh my look at the blossoms, all yellow as I loved! And, I can feel they smell wonderful...
I love this kind of rich floral melodies very much. Thanks dearest Glennis for this happy walkabout acacia branches there in SC w/ your wonderful photos. I'm curious where's next to go with you?

By the way, did you ever see the oil painting on canvas dd 1890 from Van Gogh, named "Blossoming Acacia Branches"? Amazing!

Woman in a Window said...

I remember when I first travelled out of the area I was raised (and that wasn't until I was about 20) that I was astounded by the differences of plant life throughout the U.S. Even Ohio was lush to me. Imagine that.

I am a Tornado ~ proven fact! said...

I love yellow flowers. Stunning.