Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Acaciella angustissima, (=Acacia angustissima), White-ball Acacia

White-ball Acacia has white or cream colored spherical or globose flowers. The plants are native to the central southern and southwest United States. Acaciella angustissima White-ball Acacia may grow up to 6 feet (1.8 m) and more depending on variety and location; 2 or 3 feet (.61 or .91m) wide. Acaciella angustissima White-ball Acacia has a flattened fruit which is a 2 to 3 inch (4 to 7 cm) long seed pod (legume). Acaciella angustissima White-ball Acacia blooms from May to September, well into the fall. Plants grow at elevations from 3,000 to 6,500 feet (914 to 1,981 m). Acaciella angustissima White-ball Acacia has green, compound, deciduous, pinnate leaves arranged alternately along the stem. Note the plants have feathery foliage. Acaciella angustissima White-ball Acacia prefers dry rocky slopes and hillsides, sometimes in chaparral communities; it grows well in alkaline soil. Although this species is common where it is found, it is listed as Endangered by the State of Florida. Acaciella angustissima

Scientific Name: Acaciella angustissima, (=Acacia angustissima)
Common Name: White-ball Acacia

Also Called: Fern Acacia, Ocpatl, Prairie Acacia, Prairie Wattle, White Ball Acacia, Whiteball Acacia; (Spanish: Guajillo, Day, Cantemó Palo de Pulque, Barbas de Chivo)

Family: Fabaceae, Leguminosae Family

Synonyms: ()

Status: Native

Duration: Perennial from woody rhizomes.

Size: May grow up to 6 feet (1.8 m) and more depending on variety and location; 2 or 3 feet (.61 or .91m) wide.

Growth Form: Subshrub, shrub or tree depending on variety and geographic location; plants colonize from woody rhizomes; stems are without spines or thorns removing this species from most members of the Acacia genus.

Leaves: Green, compound, pinnate, arranged alternately along stem; feathery foliage; deciduous.

Flower Color: White or cream-colored spherical or globose flowers; the flowers grow from leaf and stem axils; the fruit is a flattened 2 to 3 inch (4 to 7 cm) long seed pod (legume).

Flowering Season: May to September (blooms summer into fall)

Elevation: 3,000 to 6,500 feet (914 to 1,981 m)

Habitat Preferences: Dry rocky slopes and hillsides, sometimes in chaparral communities; grows in alkaline soil.

Recorded Range: White-ball Acacia is found in the central southern and southwest states of AR, AZ, FL, KS, LA, MO, NM, OK and TX. This species is also native throughout northern and central Mexico and Baja California.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Acaciella angustissima as Acaciella angustissima.

North America species range map for Common name, Acaciella angustissima:

North America species range map for Common name, Acaciella angustissima: Click image for full size map.
Click image for full size map

Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: Unknown
Wetland Indicator: Unknown

Threatened/Endangered Information: Acacia (=Acaciella) angustissima, Prairie Acacia, is listed as Endangered by the State of Florida.

U.S. Weed Information: Unknown

International Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: 1The Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International, (CABI), and 2The Invasive Species Compendium (ISC) has identified Acacia (=Acaciella) angustissima, Prairie Acacia as “having a high potential of invasiveness due to its prolific seed production, rapid growth, and its capability to reproduce vegetatively”.

1The Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI), Wallingford, Oxfordshire, England; The US Department of Agriculture is a lead partner with CABI.

2The Invasive Species Compendium (ISC) is an encyclopedic resource that brings together a wide range of different types of science-based information to support decision-making in invasive species management worldwide.

Genus Information: In North America there are 5 species and for Acaciella. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 23 accepted species names for the Acaciella.

The genus Acaciella was published in 1928 by Britton and Rose.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 3 species of genus Acaciella, California has 0 species, Nevada has 0 species, New Mexico has 1 species, Texas has 3 species, Utah has 0 species. Data approximate, subject to revision.

The USDA Plants Database includes the following 2 varieties (previously 3 varieties) of Acaciella angustissima;

Acaciella angustissima var. chisosiana, Chisos Prairie Acacia; (TX);
Acaciella angustissima var. hirta, Prairie Acacia; (AR, AZ, FL, KS, LA, MO, NM, OK, TX).
Acaciella angustissima var. texensis, Prairie Acacia; now included with variety "hirta".

Comments: White-ball Acacia does not have spines or thorns and is easily to cultivate. The flowers are somewhat showy and the fine feathery foliage is one of the plant's most attractive features.

In Southwest Desert Flora also see similar species; Sweet Acacia, Vachellia farnesiana, Catclaw Acacia, Acacia greggii and Whitethorn Acacia, Vachellia constricta.

Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
Acaciella angustissima has showy flowers, the flowers, their seeds and plants may be visited by hummingbirds and/or small mammals including rodents and granivorous birds in search of food, nectar and protection through cover.

Beneficial Value to Butterflies, Honey Bees and Insects
Acaciella angustissima has showy flowers, the flowers and their plants may be visited or used by butterflies, moths, flies, honeybees, native bees and other insects in search of nectar, food or shelter and protection.

Acaciella angustissima is a larval host for Sphingicampa raspa. Find out more from Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA).

The genus “Acaciella” (Acac'ella:), is a diminutive form of the genus Acacia or "similar to" or "like", the genus Acacia, but is not a member of the Acacia genus.

The genus Acaciella was published in 1928 by Britton and Rose.

The species epithet angustissima (angustis'simus:) means very narrow or most narrow, a reference to the delicate leaflets.


Date Profile Completed: 07/28/2015, updated 02/23/2021
References and additional information:
Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960,University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California.
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search; accessed 02/17/2021.
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet;; accessed 02/12/2021.
Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet (accessed 02/12/2021). Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
Kleiman, Russ, Dr., Associate Botanist, Dale A. Zimmerman Herbarium; Vascular Plants of the Gila Wilderness; Melampodium leucanthum Torrey & Gray, (Blackfoot, Plains Blackfoot-Daisy); - accessed 02/17/2021; Presented in Association with the Western New Mexico University Department of Natural Sciences
Wikipedia contributors, 'Acaciella angustissima', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 22 December 2020, 19:07 UTC, [accessed 12 February 2021]
Aggie-Horticulture, Ornamental Plants Klein Cholla, Tasajillo, Candle Cholla; (accessed: 02/12/2021)
T. Beth Kinsey, Southeastern Arizona Wildflowers and Plants; Machaeranthera tanacetifolia – Tanseyleaf Tansyaster - accessed 02/17/2021.
Seiler, John, Peterson, John, North American species range map courtesy of Virginia Tech, Dept. of Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation
SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information.
Etymology:Michael L. Charters California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations; A Dictionary of Botanical and Biographical Etymology - (accessed 02/12/2021)
IPNI (2020). International Plant Names Index. Published on the Internet, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Harvard University Herbaria & Libraries and Australian National Botanic Gardens. [Retrieved 12 February 2021].