Thursday, November 7, 2013
Acacia farnesiana (Sweet Acacia)
The flowers of Acacia farnesiana have a fragrance similar to grape candy, which is probably where it gets the common name Sweet Acacia. The flowers may appear at any time during the year, but are more numerous during the cooler months. The inflorescence is a fuzzy yellow ball of multiple flowers about 1/2 inch in diameter.
Pollinated flowers develop into 2- to 3-inch long, lumpy green pods that turn black when mature. Seed germination is improved by scarification and soaking.
The bipinnately compound leaves have a delicate fern-like appearance, but the entire plant is covered with sharp thorns.
This species grows into an open-branched tree or shrub about 15-20 feet tall. The foliage is semi-evergreen and is often retained on the plant during warm winters.
Acacia farnesiana is believed to be native to tropical America, but it is now found growing all around the world.
It is a nitrogen-fixing plant, capable of utilizing atmospheric nitrogen as a nutrient source, and is very drought-tolerant once established.. Growth and flowering is best in full sun. It is recommended for USDA Zones 8-11 and is tolerant of acidic, alkaline and salty soils.
The leaves, roots and bark are used in folk medicine to treat a variety of ailments and an essential oil distilled from the flowers is used in the perfume industry.