Plant FinderPlant Finder Graphic
Acacia cognata ‘Mini Cog’ (photo courtesy of Linda Lamb Peters)
Acacia cognata ‘Mini Cog’ (photo courtesy of Linda Lamb Peters)

Click to Enlarge

Zones 16-24
Full Sun
Minimal Water

Acacia cognata

Bower Wattle, River Wattle, Emerald Cascade Acacia
Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Evergreen, Trees


Native to tropics or warm regions, notably Australia, Mexico, and the southwestern U.S. Of the many species tested over the past 150 years, more than two dozen serve beautifully and functionally in Western landscapes, and new species are continually being tested.

Of species in use today, several offer fountains of clear yellow flowers in early or midwinter. Some are quite fragrant when in bloom. Many decorate and protect hillsides, banks, freeway landscapes. Some serve well in beach plantings. All are attractive to birds.

Most nurseries sell only a few of the many acacia species, but you can easily grow acacias from seed you collect yourself or order from a specialist.

Acacias differ widely in foliage and growth habit. Some have feathery, much-divided leaves; others have flattened leafstalks that fulfill the function of leaves. Many start life with feathery leaves and later develop leathery ones.

You can prune acacias or leave them to their own devices. Larger-growing species may end up as shrubs or trees depending on how they are treated in youth. Removing the lead shoot makes the plant grow as a shrub; removing the lower branches makes it treelike. It’s best to prune trees to open up their interiors; this will reduce dieback of shaded branches and prevent wind damage. Thin by removing branches all the way to the trunk.

Many acacias are relatively short lived—20 to 30 years. But if a plant reaches 20 ft. high in 3 years, the short life can be accepted.

Acacias seldom suffer pest damage. Where water is bad and salts accumulate, many become chlorotic (as do numerous other plants in such soil).

Acacia cognata

Grows quickly into a graceful weeping tree 15–25 ft. tall and wide, with narrow, drooping, bright green leaves up to 4 in. long. Springtime flowers are creamy yellow puffs. Damaged at 20°F (–7°C). Popular compact varieties (dense growers to just 3 ft. tall and wide) are ‘Limelight’, with lime green leaves, and ‘Mini Cog’ (‘Cousin Itt’); both are useful in containers and borders.

You Might Also Like...


South African natives with glossy, strap-shaped, evergreen leaves that remain attractive all year. The...

Grevillea alpina

Highly variable in size and form. Among the most widely distributed is ‘East Grampians’, a...

Lavandula multifida

Sprawling growth to 1 1/2 ft. tall and 2–3 ft. wide. Gray-green to silvery foliage is finely div...

Find Your Sunset Climate Zone

Find Your Sunset Climate Zone

View Maps Learn More