Vachellia constricta

Botanical Name

Vachellia constricta (Bentham) Seigler & Ebinger

Common Name(s)

  • whitethorn acacia
  • vinorama (Spanish)
  • garabato (Spanish)

Legume Clades

Native Geographic Range

  • Southwestern North America

IUCN Status

Growth Form

small tree

Cultivation Status in AZ



Drought- and cold-deciduous, multiple-stemmed shrubs or small trees 6–20 ft (1.8—6 m) high; usually with paired white spines at the nodes of younger stems. Young stems have smooth, gray bark which becomes fissured and shreds into strips with age. Twigs may be reddish or pinkish and are particularly noticeable during the winter when the plants are leafless. The small leaves are bipinnate and have 5—12 pairs of tiny leaflets per pinna. Small, fragrant yellow flower heads are produced in spring and late summer in response to moisture.


Extensively distributed from Arizona and Texas to southern Mexico in arid and semi-arid habitats. This species can be abundant along arroyos and on plains and slopes. It occurs on a wide range of soils.


Wildlife and livestock eat the seeds. The flowers are considered good bee forage for honey production.


Whitethorn acacia makes an excellent tree for patios and narrow spaces. The fine foliage breaks the intensity of the summer sun. Growth rate is moderate with supplemental irrigation. Plants can be pruned when young to encourage a tree form. The plants are cold hardy to at least 0° F (-18° C). The slender fruits and small leaves are a minor litter issue. Whitethorn acacia can live more than 100 years.