Vachellia farnesiana

Accession Count: 221
Common Name: Sweet Acacia
    • Select which
      accessions to find:

Family Name: Fabaceae
Botanical Name: Vachellia farnesiana
Botanical Synonyms: Acacia farnesiana
Family Synonyms: Leguminosae
Sub Species:
Characteristics: Acacia farnesiana is a thorny evergreen tree which has a vase shape. Its leaves are medium green and bipinnate. The tree has round, puffball shaped yellow-orange blossoms which have a sweet fragrance. 
Compound: Vac far
Geographic Origin: Mexico/Central America
Ecozone Origin: Nearctic
Biome Origin:
Natural History: Sweet acacia is cultivated in many countries (3), however, it is a native of the Chihuahuan Desert. In Australia it is often found in dry creek beds of the inland (3). Acacia are found growing in sandy or gravelly soil (1, 4). Seeds of Acacia spp. are a source of food and shelter for Bruchidae seed weevils (4). Eggs are laid in or on the immature pod, and when the larvae hatch they penetrate, consume, and grow and pupate inside of the seed (4). Seeds may be dispersed by birds or mammals in feces (4).
Cultivation Notes:
A. farnesiana can tolerate drought and poor soil conditions, as long as the soil is well-draining (1, 4). Plant in full sun to part shade (1, 4).
This tree can be used in a landscape as a specimen tree, accent, street tree, large screen or buffer. It can be invasive in landscapes, and is very thorny. The sweet acacia should be trained, and suckers should be trimmed off its base when it is young. It should not be planted by pools, as it drops many seed pods. 
Seeds of Acacia spp. require scarification before planting to improve germination success, sulfuric acid being the most commonly used agent (4, 5). A. farnesiana seeds should then be soaked in warm water overnight prior to sowing (1, 5). Treated seeds may be stored for a short amount of time before planting (4). Acacia spp. are most commonly propagated by seed, but it is also possible to propagate using cuttings, or by micropropagation (5). Cuttings are considered difficult to root; rooting may be improved by rooting under mist using eight thousand ppm IBA talc (5). 
Ethnobotany: The bark, leaves, and root of many species of acacia (there are over 700) are widely used for medicinal purposes by the aboriginal Australians (2). The bark and root have an astringent property (3); ailments of a wide variety are treated with some form of Acacia spp., including diarrhea, laryngitis, venereal diseases, cuts, abrasions, skin irritation, the pain of childbirth, sores, scabies, aching joints, and congestion (2). However, the most well-known uses are for skin ailments and diarrhea (2, 3). The bark, gum from under the bark, and juice from unripe pods have been used to make bandages (2, 3), and the wood is used to make boomerangs, spears, axe handles, digging sticks, music sticks, shields, and other tools (2).
A. farnesiana is used to make a perfume called “cassie” (3). In Algeria, the flowers are considered to be an aphrodisiac (3). The resinous secretion from the pods can be used as a glue in mending pottery. 

Height: 16 - 20 feet
Width: 16 - 20 feet
Growth Rate: Moderate Growing
Grow Season: Summer
Flower Season: Spring
Color: Yellow
Function: Accent
Spread: Spreading
Allergen: Allergenic
Invasive: Invasive
Toxicity: Benign
Hardy: Hardy
Water Use: Low water Use


1. Acacia Farnesiana (L.) Willd. in: Plants for a Future

2. Appetiti, E. (n.d.). Remedies from the Bush: Traditional Medicine Among the Australian Aborigines. Handbook of Medicinal Plants. Food Products Press. Print.

3. Cribb, A.B. and J.W. (1981). Wild Medicine in Australia. Sydney: William Collins Pty Ltd. Print.

4. FAO Handbook on seeds of dry-zone acacias

5. Hartmann, K.T., and Kester, D.E. (2011). Plant Propagation: Principles and Practices (8th ed.). New Jersey: Prentice Hall. Print.

6. Duffield, Mary Rose, and Warren D. Jones. Plants for Dry Climates - How to Select, Grow and Enjoy. Lane Publishing Company, 1992.


Vachellia farnesiana