Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Huisache is early this year

with 23 comments

Click for greater clarity.

Click for greater clarity and size.

February 14 is the earliest in Austin that I think I’ve ever seen flowers on a huisache* tree, Acacia farnesiana, but that’s the day when I found my first one blossoming this year. As an added benefit, it was also the closest tree of this species that I know of, just half a mile from where I live.

An individual huisache flower globe, which reaches about 3/8 of an inch (1 cm) in diameter, is already fragrant, but the aroma of these flowers en masse, especially downwind of them, can be overwhelming.


* This is a Spanish version of an Aztec word. The pronunciation is approximately wee-sáh-cheh.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 20, 2013 at 6:20 AM

23 Responses

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  1. Deine schönen Bilder verzaubern mich immer wieder, hier gibt es immer wieder Schnee und Kälte 😉


    February 20, 2013 at 7:12 AM

    • Nicht eine Zauberflöte, sondern eine Zauberfoto der goldenen Blüte. (If I got that wrong, please correct me.)

      Yes, you’re still in a land of cold and snow, even as Austin is turning into spring.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 20, 2013 at 8:08 AM

  2. Oh my, even with my enthusiasm for spring-related rejuvenation, these kinds of changes in our natural world are scary.


    February 20, 2013 at 7:39 AM

    • Can you tell us more, Sally, about what you find scary in these changes?

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 20, 2013 at 8:09 AM

      • It’s a huge subject, and difficult to response in a brief manner. My upset is with the upset of the natural order within our universe. There is much scientific and real-life evidence for disruption in Mother Nature’s cycles. For example, while natives are supposed to adjust to climate changes and variations in seasons, they are suffering with increases in weather-related issues. It’s a domino effect that is affecting birds, insects and other wildlife–eventually our food supply. For example, if coneflowers are blooming too early, it affects the goldfinch population that depends on them for their young. In my region goldfinches do not nest until the middle or end of the summer, waiting for their food supply. When that is disrupted, their biological cycle is effected. It’s such a complex subject and ramifications gigantic.


        February 20, 2013 at 8:37 AM

        • Thanks for your detailed answer, Sally.

          Speaking of ramifications, and with regard to huisaches in particular, I haven’t been able to understand the fluctuation in their bloom time in Austin. A decade ago we lived on the other side of town and there was a huisache behind a convenience store that I got accustomed to seeing. In the first years that I observed it, it flowered around the end of February. Then huisaches around Austin got into a mode of blooming as late as late April. In 2010 and 2011, I don’t recall seeing the huisache in our current neighborhood (the tree in today’s picture) flower at all, apparently because of the drought in Texas. And now we’re back to a February flowering, and slightly earlier than when I first began tracking the one in our old neighborhood (lost to development last year, alas). It seems that the huisaches are good at moderating their bloom time to correspond to local conditions. Let’s hope that that’s the case, and that other species are equally adaptable.

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 20, 2013 at 10:25 AM

  3. Beautiful photo. I like the color of the twig and blooms. A real treat to see today. I have not tried to grow this small tree. I think it remains a small tree with many green branches. I might have it totally confused with something though. I should have looked it up before commenting.


    February 20, 2013 at 4:51 PM

    • Yes, I think you’ve confused this with something else. Huisaches can grow to be quite large, as tomorrow’s post will show.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 20, 2013 at 6:19 PM

  4. You are really getting me primed for flower season!


    February 20, 2013 at 9:53 PM

    • To borrow a title from Dickens, I could say you’ve got great expectations, especially after your recent buttercup.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 20, 2013 at 10:14 PM

  5. […] the partly cloudy morning of February 15, the day after I saw the first few huisache flowers of the season in my neighborhood, I found an Acacia farnesiana in a more advanced stage of […]

  6. Bonjour,
    Tu fais la culture du soleil ?


    February 21, 2013 at 7:21 AM

  7. Ta photo est fabuleuse Steve!


    February 21, 2013 at 11:45 AM

  8. Interesting comments on the natural cycles. It was fascinating to watch nature “return to herself” after Hurricane Ike rolled through. For weeks, there seemed to be nothing living – not even insects. It took months for some of the fish to come back. Many birds normally seen didn’t return for two years. Now, there are real changes of a more positive sort. The increased growth of shrubbery and trees has increased the presence of songbirds – especially the seed eaters – and in turn we’re seeing many more wildflowers. It is terrifically complicated, but I’m not certain that disaster is inevitable.

    In any event – on a more sunny note – there’s some palo verde that is putting on a yellow haze, but my neighborhood huisache looks to be some time away from blooming. I tend to think of temperature being the primary controller. That is, more southern plants bloom sooner. Obviously that isn’t always the case.


    February 21, 2013 at 7:10 PM

    • History books and other accounts make a good case that disasters are inevitable: as far back as we have records, every year has brought assorted disasters in various parts of the world. They can’t usually be individually predicted (at least not until they’re almost upon us), but the probability that there will be some each year is 100%.

      As for huisaches, even within Austin I’ve noticed that in a given spring some of those trees have taken to blossoming weeks before others. I imagine it has to do with soil, nearby sources of water (or lack thereof), age and health of each tree, etc. I’m surprised that you haven’t seen any huisaches flowering near the coast yet, given that the temperature there is, if anything, slightly warmer than here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 21, 2013 at 9:31 PM

  9. It reminds me of the Mimosa that grows here. It is sensitive to very low temperatures and a lot were lost last year.


    February 23, 2013 at 1:46 AM

    • Acacia and mimosa are in the same family, so the resemblance isn’t coincidental. Too bad so many of yours were lost last year.

      And speaking of last year, I showed a photo of a local mimosa flowering.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 23, 2013 at 8:31 AM

      • That’s a mimosa I’m not familiar with. I think the Acacia family must be high on the list for having beautiful, fragrant flowers.


        February 23, 2013 at 10:11 AM

        • Mimosa borealis grows in the southwest-central part of the United States, so you don’t have it where you are. I’ll agree with you that “the Acacia family must be high on the list for having beautiful, fragrant flowers.”

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 23, 2013 at 10:25 AM

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