Catclaw acacia

Acacia greggii Gray

Fabaceae (Legume family)


A thorny, thicket-forming, native shrub or small tree in the legume family, this plant occasionally grows to 30 feet tall, with trunks of up to 12 inches in diameter. However, these trees are usually much smaller.

The leaves are doubly pinnate, with small leaflets on one side and then on the other at different levels on the stem. The fragrant, pale white flowers generally occur from April to October. They develop into curling, contorted fruit pods that persist from July through winter.

Catclaw acacias have many alternating thorns pointing upward that make dense thickets impenetrable.

Its forage value is fair for wildlife and goats and poor for cattle and sheep.


Catclaw acacias grow on dry, gravelly mesas with shallow caliche and in arroyos and deep, alkali sand. The plant is also extremely drought tolerant.