Whitethorn Acacia

By: Carissa Jansen

YouTube Video

INTRODUCTION- 

Hello boys and girls today we are going to learn about the whitethorn acacia.  If you live here in Arizona you may have seen one as you drove through your neighborhood today.  It is a large beautiful shrub that has bright, yellow puffy flowers.  It blooms in the Sonoran desert  every spring and summer.  It is called the whitethorn acacia because it has needle sharp white thorns on it's trunk and branches.  So don't try to climb one of these because you might get hurt.  Now let's read on and and learn some interesting facts about the whitethorn acacia.  There is a fun activity and a quiz to see how much you have learned.  All right let's get started.

 

WHO AM I? 

 
I am a beautiful shrub that blooms in the Sonoran desert every spring and summer.  I have the brightest, yellow, puffy flowers and produce long, slender pods.   I have needle sharp, white thorns on my trunk and many branches. They protect me from being eaten by desert dwelling animals.  I belong to the largest family of trees and shrubs, Fabaceae which is the pea family.  I can live to be over 70 years old.


WHERE DO I LIVE?
 
 You can find me anywhere between the Chihuahuan deserts of New Mexico and Texas to the Sonoran desert of Arizona.  I love to dig my roots in rocky hillsides, along flowing streams, in floodplains or on top of a high mesa.  I love to be in big open areas, so I can spread my branches and soak up the sun. 

HOW DO I LOOK?

 I am a large shrub that can grow any where between 6 and 20 feet.  I can not only grow that tall, but my zigzagged branches can spread that wide as well.  My yellow flowers look like puffballs and are about a ½ inch wide and my leaves are 1 inch long.  My fruit are pea pods which are long, skinny and dark brown and can be anywhere from 2 to 5 inches long.  My bark is a reddish maroon and a bit course.  For protection, I have long white thorns that can grow up to 1 inch and this is why I am called the White Thorned Acacia.

HOW DO I REPRODUCE?
 
 My flowers are pollinated by bees and bugs that come to visit my puffy yellow flowers.  It is nice that they come to visit me even though I don't produce nectar and have very little pollen.  If I need to I can pollinate myself, but that year I will produce very few pea pods.  Many birds come to eat my seeds, especially quails.  They roam about the desert and distribute my seeds.  It is best when they are planted about a ½ inch below the ground and receive lots of water and warmth. 

 

FUN FACTS ABOUT ME! 

I was of great use to prehistoric Indians.  They would grind up my pods and use it to make food and medicinal teas.   The teas would help treat stomach aches and when ground up as a powder, it would help treat skin rashes.  The wood of some Acacias is so strong they would use it to make nails, fence posts and even build ships.

ACTIVITIES!

Students can paint a picture of me using cotton balls and yellow and brown paint.

Students can identify and write a paragraph and/or draw a picture of a Sonoran desert plant that is in their yard.
YOU CAN FIND MORE INFORMATION ABOUT ME AT THE PLACES BELOW-

www.anniesannuals.com   Acacia constricta "Whitethorn Acacia-  Picture of whitethorn acacia bloom.

essmextension.tamu.edu     White-thorn acacia, mescat acacia-  Picture of whitethorn acacia thorns

www.desertusa.com   Whitethorn Acacia shrub -  Picture and facts about the whitethorn acacia.

  

 

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