Catclaw Acacia as landscape 'tree'

noisebeam(9)March 25, 2013

About five years ago I scarified and planted what I thought was an Ironwood tree seed in my recently desert converted front yard. To my surprise (knowing that ironwoods are hard to germinate) it sprouted and has been growing ever since.

It is now a small tree (15' or so) and while I've been wanting a more natural look, have been pruning into a more tree-like form.

It became apparent as it grew larger (and faster than expected) it may not be an Ironwood. Given it's ferocious claw like spines and other characteristics I think it is a Catsclaw Acacia (Acacia greggii). It is certainly not an Ironwood.

I can either make this work as a front tree, which will require extra timing as this plant grows shoots in both the up and down direction, sprawling almost. The spines make this a careful chore.

Or I can remove it now before it becomes too much of a hassle to remove and replace with a tree of my choice. (ironwood or palo verde)

I really like to sprout plants, even trees as I feel it lends to the most natural root system for the locality, but may plant a more mature one to catch up on those lost 5 years.

Any input as to if Catsclaw Acacia is an acceptable landscape tree or if I'd be better getting rid of it for the long term.

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We have quite a few catclaw acacias (acacia greggii) growing around the perimeter of the parking lot where I work. (Planted around 1998.) Other than occasional trimming, they require no care; the landscape crews spend most of their time trimming the palo verdes and sweet acacias in and around the parking lot.

They get wonderfully fragrant blooms in the spring and have an interesting, gnarly aged look. Plus they're relatively slow-growing which makes them easy to manage, even if they are somewhat on the spiny side.

I say leave it! I'm currently growing a Sonoran Catclaw seedling (acacia occidentalis) in my backyard, which is like a catclaw except larger and more tree-like. I get tired of the same-old same-old trees at the nursery.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 4:31PM
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I like that input, thanks. So far no care except for the trimming.

Never even gave it supplemental water, except perhaps when I was trying to get seed to sprout (I don't recall)

So far in the five years since sprouting it has not bloomed. Once it does it will help with ID.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 5:05PM
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Keep the cat claw. I have a bunch in my property and with regular trims, it can be a beautiful tree. The bonus is that it has the most wonderful light fragrant. If you like to "sprout" trees, try foot hill palo verde , velvet mesquite , and blue palo verde (Az state tree), all wonderful native trees. Good luck

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 11:47PM
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I am now questioning what kind of tree this is. After studying catsclaw acacia and ironwood I am thinking it is ironwood again.

I came into doubt as from a hike last weekend where the ironwoods in the wild had less severe thorns and the smallest branches were more of a grey compared to green for the tree in my yard.

I really hope it is Ironwood. I did intentionally take seeds from pod still attached to an Ironwood tree, but I thought perhaps I had mixed the seeds up later.

If it flowers this year that will let me know for sure. I closer inspection of leaves may help me ID it as well.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 2:20PM
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We have an ironwood and it looks quite different from a catclaw. It's leaflets are much more grey than the catclaw's deep green ones. Also it's bark is a very light almost silver grey with interesting "rings" around them.

The growth habit of our ironwood is very vertical instead of the shrubby growth of the catclaw. Even though our tree is over fifteen feet tall it hasn't bloomed yet so you might be in for a long wait if flower color is going to be your deciding factor.

Good luck,

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 2:53PM
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This trees leaflets are more grey-green and the bark is light silver grey with rings.

This tree is multi-branced/stemed. Growth mostly goes up, but some branches/shoots grow downward.

I could find nothing else in ID books that it could be except ironwood.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 3:58PM
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Post a pic and I can tell u. I have both mature and seedling of iron wood and cat claw in my property. I also recall that the seed pod of cat claw is semi circular and "flat" like. The seed pod of iron wood looks more of an edamame like.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 11:54PM
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