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Scientific: Vachellia bravoensis (formerly Acacia schaffneri)
Common: medusa vachellia, medusa acacia, twisted acacia
Family: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Origin: Altiplano region of central and south central Mexico, north of Mexico City.

Pronounciation: Va-KEL-lee-a bra-voo-EN-sis

Hardiness zones
8, 9, 12-24
USDA 9-11 (arid zones only)

Landscape Use: Strong, dominant accent, focal point, informal with a bit of wildness, xeric and desert designs.

Form & Character: Upright, yet wildly spreading, assymetrical, twisting, turning, domineering, exotic.

Growth Habit: Partially deciduous to evergreen, woody, broadleaf perennial tree. Moderate growth rate to 25-feet tall with often greater spread.

Foliage/texture: Small, pinnately compound leaves on coarse stems. Foliage masks prominent stipular thorns; coarse texture.

Flowers & fruits: Fragrant, golden yellow puff ball flowers followed by brown pods.

Seasonal color: Golden yellow flowers in February/March.

Temperature: Tolerant

Light: Full sun

Soil: Well drained, or allow soil to dry between watering events once established.

Watering: Drought tolerant, plant vigor strongly, positively related to increased irrigation.

Pruning: Prune to an open and upright crown. Vigorously train whne young for best shape and development of strong schaffold branches.

Propagation: Seed

Disease and Pests: Various root rot pathogens in poorly drained sites.

Additional comments: Medusa vachellia is an oddly interesting, but seldom seen tree in the Phoenix area because of its random branch architecture that is difficult to control or constrain within most present day, fragmented landscape spaces. In short, it demands large amounts of landscape space. Use this tree with much discretion because of its broad spreading habit and medusa form.

Personal reflection: I often think of this tree as palo brea's (Parkinsonia praecox) long lost ugly cousin because they both share a similar medusa-like crown structure.

Taxonomic tidbit: The genus name change from Acacia to Vachellia occurred in 2005.