Texas Natives – October, 2007
In search of a spreading, vase-shaped deciduous tree with stand-out flowers? Perhaps Wright acacia is right for you. One of the hardiest of the Texas native acacias, Wright acacia is a superb landscape plant for a sunny, well-drained site. Trees grow from 20 to 30 feet tall and just as wide.
Much like mesquite and pecan trees, Wright acacia is late to leaf out in the spring. The finely textured, light-green compound foliage provides a micro-climate of dappled light, suitable to grow many partial-shade-loving xeric plants like cedar sage, rock rose or skullcap. Spikes of creamy-white, fragrant flowers appear in late spring and intermittently throughout the summer, sometimes following a welcome summer rain shower. When Wright acacia is in bloom, it becomes a pollinator’s paradise. Bees, small butterflies and other insects are highly attracted to the nectar-rich flowers. It is an excellent honey plant and one of the acacia species used in the production of Uvalde honey.
Fruit is a broad legume, changing from green to rosy pink to dark brown upon maturity. The seed is easy to germinate and it is not uncommon to discover acacia seedlings growing under the tree canopy. Small, curved thorns appear on the new, tender, green branches and on young saplings. Older wood and branches are not armed.
Trees should be regularly watered following transplant to develop the root system and only sparingly, if at all, once established. Prune during the dormant season to shape and correct branching problems.
It is not susceptible to serious pest or disease damage. Wright acacia thrives as a water-miser in the garden, which one of its landscape benefits given the current drought cycle in Texas.
About the author: Tina Dombrowski is the Director of Horticulture at Texas Discovery Gardens at Fair Park, Dallas. She has a particular interest in Texas native plants, butterflies, pollinating insects and their interconnected histories. Visit www.texasdiscoverygardens.org for more.