Huisache

Acacia smallii Isely

Fabaceae (Legume family)


Description

Huisache is a small tree in the Legume family. It is shaped like an upside-down cone. This shrub to small tree is a native, warm-season perennial that is commonly named "sweet acacia." The stems, which can reach 15 feet tall, have many spines that are paired, straight, pale and pinlike.

The leaflets are gray-green and twice-compounded with eight to 16 divisions, each having 10 to 20 pairs of small, sensitive leaflets.

The flowers are produced on a fragrant, yellow, fluffy ball with many clusters of yellow stamens. Huisache fruit are black and tapered at each end. The seedpods are cylindrical and 1½ to 3 inches long; when mature, they turn dark brown or black.

Sometimes confused with twisted acacia, huisache can be distinguished by its spreading growth form, the shorter and broader legume, and the position and/or presence of a gland on the petiole, or leaf stem. In huisache, the petiolar gland is either absent or located near the middle of the leaf petiole.

Huisache provides poor grazing for wildlife and livestock.


Habitat

This tree grows in a variety of soils, most often on deep, poorly drained, sandy or clay lowlands.


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