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Sonoran Desert Acacias & Mimosas

Primarily trees and shrubs. Fruit a legume with usu. several to many beans. Flowers with small, nearly obscure petals, but long, conspicuous stamens. Flowers often numerous in densly packed spikes.

Catclaw Acacia

Acacia greggii

White-thorn Acacia

Acacia constricta

Watercolor © by Michael Plagens

Medium to v. large shrub grows along washes. Extraordinarily sharp, curved spines. Short spikes of very sweet, cream-colored flowers in May-June. Bean pods are twisted and hardened at maturity. Detailed Description

Pen & Ink © by Michael Plagens

Grows along washes in the mid elevations of the Sonoran Desert, but more frequently at upper elevations. Small, spherical clusters of yellow flowers. Long, thin-hulled bean pods. Large shrub, or sometimes tree-like.  Double compound leaves have many small leaflets. Detailed Description

Wait-a-minute Bush

Mimosa aculeaticarpa

Screwbean Mesquite

Prosopis pubescens

Pen & Ink by Michael Plagens

Medium sized shrub growing mostly at upper elevations of the Sonoran Desert in transition to chaparral. Double compound leaves with very numerous, minute leaflets that close up if damaged. Sharp, curved spines are in pairs at each node. Flower clusters are spherical and whitish. Detailed Description

Pen & Ink © by Michael Plagens

Small tree of desert river banks and flood zones. Seed pods shaped into distinctive cork-screws. Short, sharp spines in pairs. Detailed Description

Fairy Duster

Calliandra eriophylla

Velvet Mesquite

Prosopis velutina

Photo by Wikipedia User:Melburnian

Small to medium sized shrub growing mostly on rocky bajadas and commonly at upper elevations of the Sonoran Desert in transition to chaparral. Double compound leaves with small leaflets. No spines. Flower clusters are spherical and have long pink stames. Detailed Description. This photo was taken at the Sonoran Desert Museum in Tucson by Wikipedia User:Melburnian.

Prosopis velutina photo © by Michael Plagens

Common desert tree found mostly along large washes and adjacent to riparian habitat. Long spikes of cream-yellow flowers. Beans mostly straight or slightly curved. Leaves with fine pubescence. Detailed Description

Baja Fairyduster

Calliandra californica

Sweet Acacia

Acacia farnesiana

Baja Fairy Duster photo © by Michael Plagens

Feathery leaves and puff ball inflorescences showing scarlet stamens. Xeriscape garden favorite. No throrns. Detailed Description

Photo by Mike Plagens

Small to medium sized tree, not widespread in the Sonoran Desert, but frequently used in xeriscapes. Paired white thorns. Spherical balls of yellow or golden orange flowers. Double compound leaves. Detailed Description.

Willow Acacia

Acacia salicina

Feather Bush

Lysiloma watsonii

Willow Acacia, Acacia salicina, photo by Mike Plagens

Leaves are tough and strap like formed from expanded midrib. Cream-colored inflorescences are ball-shaped. Medium tree with weeping branches. Australian import. Detailed Description.

Pen & Ink © by Michael Plagens

This favorite Sonoran Desert tree is widely planted in urban settings, but naturally its distribution was highly localized: Foothills of the Rincon Mountains east of Tucson, Arizona. Large, finely dissected leaves. Detailed Description

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2012