When I went into my garden today, the fragrance of honey permeated the air, and I knew the Willow Acacia (Acacia salicina) trees had bloomed overnight. The flowers are actually little clusters of yellow puffballs that will last for several weeks and then develop into pods which hold beautiful black and red seeds. I love the sweet fragrance of blooming Willow Acacia. It almost makes up for some of the negatives I’ve discovered regarding these trees. However, some find the fragrance too cloying, and since this tree produces blooms several times a year, those folks best avoid it.
· Good tree for narrow locations, where height is needed over width.
· Fast growing with a willow-like appearance, and is evergreen in Arizona.
· Needs little water when established.
· This Australian native can take extreme heat, and once established cold to the mid-teens.
· Fragrant flowers and interesting seeds.
· Constantly suckers. I spend a good deal of time pulling up or clipping numerous suckers that grow from shallow lateral roots. Suckers may be 20 feet from the tree!
· Prone to wind damage. My three trees all suffered severe wind damage during our monsoon season. Two trees toppled, and had to be drastically pruned and restaked. Restaking causes its own problems, so I’ll be dealing with that for a couple more years. Another tree totally lost its crown, so it was unsalvageable.
· Although considered a low litter tree, the suckers, the volunteers from seed, and the leaf drop in very cold or hot weather and pods several times a year put it outside the low litter category in my view.
If I had to do it over again, I think I’d pass on the Willow Acacia. My back hurts from pulling suckers all morning. I suppose if I want to smell honey, I can open a jar and save myself a lot of work!