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Image of Acacia aneura photo by: Forest & Kim Starr

Forest & Kim Starr


The mulga tree is tough yet delicate in appearance, especially when in bloom. It is ideally planted as a small pretty accent tree for residents in desert environments and originates from inland Australia. In its native habitat trees can live for centuries if not damaged by fire. This is unusual among the acacias, which tend to be short-lived.

The trees are evergreen, thornless and have variable and irregular crowns. The leaves are made up of long, linear, needle-like leaf stems that are blue-green....

Image of Acacia craspedocarpa photo by: Michael Charters,

Michael Charters,

(Leatherleaf Acacia)

This unusual acacia is a small tree or large shrub with unique foliage and flowers. It is adapted to dry heat, so it’s perfect for dry southwestern gardens. Leatherleaf acacia is native to the interior of Australia where the seasons are long and dry. It is an upright grower with evergreen spatula-shaped leathery blue green leaves that are much larger than those of other acacias.

This tree blooms from winter into spring with unique flowers held at the ends of the outer twigs. Single stems are...

Image of Acacia cultriformis photo by: John Rickard

John Rickard

(Knife Acacia)

This tough medium-sized tree is native to eastern Australia where it thrives on arid rocky ridges along the coasts and inland. It has a high degree of drought, salt and wind resistance.

Knife acacia has a large twiggy canopy that becomes cloaked in blue-green leaf-like structures called phyllodes, which are triangular and held very close on the stem. This acacia blooms in spring with large clusters of fragrant bright yellow flowers that are pea-sized and round. They are highly attractive to...

Image of Acacia farnesiana photo by: Audrey, Eve and George DeLange

Audrey, Eve and George DeLange

(Sweet Acacia, Texas Huisache)

The soft airy look of this small acacia leaves little clue to its adaptation to North America’s hottest desert climates. Its natural range extends from the American southwest into Mexico, then it has adjunct populations far south in Chile. It is one of the desert acacias that bear sharp thorns to protect themselves from browsing wildlife. The leaves are medium green, very small and fern like.

This tree blooms in early to mid spring with large pompon-like bright yellow flowers that are markedly...

Image of Acacia melanoxylon photo by: James H. Schutte

James H. Schutte

(Australian Blackwood, Blackwood)

One of the largest and most cold-hardy acacias in cultivation, this vigorous, medium-sized tree is valued for its toughness, attractive evergreen foliage, and fragrant spring flowers. Native to cool, moist locations in eastern Australia and Tasmania, it rapidly forms an upright tree whose brittle branches are furnished with finely textured, pinnate leaves,or with crescent-shaped, gray-green, leaf-like "phyllodes" (which are actually expanded leaf stems). Mature trees cast moderate to dense shade....

(Myall Acacia, Weeping Acacia)

Weeping acacia is a medium-sized evergreen tree with airy, pendulous branches. It originates from Australia and has attractive gray-blue, linear phyllodes (flattened leaf stalks) and deeply fissured orange-red and gray bark. In winter it produces small, round, pale-yellow flowers, which are followed by flatted green pods that age to brown.

Weeping acacia is highly drought tolerant and requires full sun and moderately fertile, acidic to neutral soil that is perfectly drained. It makes a fine specimen...

(Cooba, Willow Acacia)

This acacia has a weeping habit and willow-like foliage, hence the common name. Like many acacias, it is adapted to hot, arid conditions and is very tough. It’s found across much of Eastern Australia in sunny thickets and open areas. In time it becomes a upright tree with a large dense canopy. It has a tendency to sucker, like willows do, which can be problematic in the landscape.

The leaves of willow acacia are long, thin and dark green. It bears clusters of pea-sized flowers that are fragrant,...

Image of Acacia saligna photo by: Maureen Gilmer

Maureen Gilmer

(Blueleaf Wattle, Golden Wreath Wattle)

This fast-growing tree is ideal for arid climates where many others will not grow. Golden wreath wattle offers clusters of golden flowers in the spring and an informal but appealing look the rest of the season. It is native to southwestern Australia where it inhabits open plains and rugged lands.

When mature it develops a spreading crown with low branches. Its blue-green leaves are long and narrow, almost needle-like, and widely spaced on the branches. In spring it becomes covered with fragrant...

Image of Acacia stenophylla photo by: Audrey, Eve and George DeLange

Audrey, Eve and George DeLange

(Dalby Myall, Shoestring Acacia)

Shoestring acacia has proven its amenability to the harsh low desert where it grows as a graceful, wispy accent or shade tree. It is native across most of Australia, which explains its adaptability to a wide range of soil types and harsh climates.

Its very narrow, waxy green leaves are long and dangle, giving this tough, drought-tolerant tree an unusually delicate and graceful appearance. Its spring blooms are small, pea-sized and shaped, cream-colored and borne in drooping clusters. These are...

Image of Acer photo by: Jesse Saylor

Jesse Saylor


The genus Acer is comprised of approximately 125 species of primarily deciduous trees and large shrubs, and literally thousands of hybrids and cultivated varieties. These have a broad native distribution and can be found throughout North America, Europe, Africa and Asia.

As a genus, maples may be characterized by opposite leaf arrangement, palmate or three-parted leaves and helicopter-like fruits called samaras. Maple sizes and habits are highly variable, and cultural requirements and uses are...