Acacia constricta

Acacia constricta

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Acacia
Species: A. constricta
Binomial name
Acacia constricta

Acacia constricta, often known as the whitethorn acacia, is an acacia shrub native to Northwest Mexico, the Southwestern United States, and a quite disjunct eastern population in Virginia.[1]


In Arizona, it is found throughout the southern half of the state, extending southward throughout Sonora. Small disjunct populations have been collected from Baja California and Baja California Sur, the latter from the Magdalena Plain.

In the Sonoran Desert, Acacia constricta is usually found in arroyos and washes, where it blooms in late spring (April–May), with a second round of blooms in July–October. The bloom depends on having a minimum amount of rain, followed by a period of warmth. The flowers offer no nectar and little pollen, and so tend to have few visitors.


Acacia constricta typically grows to 2 metres (6.6 ft) in height, occasionally reaching 3 metres (9.8 ft). Its stems range from a light gray to a mahogany color, with pairs of straight white spines anywhere from 0.5 to 2 cm long.

The small leaves are even-pinnate, typically 2.5–4 cm in length, with each of the 3-9 pairs of pinnae made of 4-16 pairs of leaflets, which are about 3.5 mm long and 1 mm wide. The flowers occur in small yellow balls about 1 cm in diameter. The pods are relatively long and thin, up to 12 cm long but only 3–6 mm wide.

The leaves may drop in response to either dryness or cold.



Acacia constricta is cultivated by specialty plant nurseries as an ornamental plant. It is used in native plant desert habitat gardens. It can be trained as a small tree or into barrier hedges.


General References

  • Raymond M. Turner, Janice E. Bowers, and Tony L. Burgess, Sonoran Desert Plants: an Ecological Atlas (Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1995) pp. 15–16

External links

  • USFS: Acacia constricta
  • Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center