Acacia caven (Molina) Molina

Common names

Aromo, Caven, Espinal


Vachellia caven (Molina) Seigler & Ebinger

Article sources

New Trees

Tree or shrub to 5 m, densely branched. Branchlets with white stipular spines, 1–3 cm long. Leaves bipinnate, often in fascicles, bright green; pinnae 3–8(–10) pairs; pinnules 12–30 pairs, linear, 0.1–0.4 × 0.1 cm; rachis with distinct gland at point of attachment of first pinnae. Inflorescence simple, axillary, with two to three heads per node; heads globular, 1–2 cm diameter, bright yellow, fragrant. Flowers densely packed, 5-merous, petals larger than sepals, stamens numerous. Legume cylindrical, 3–7 × 1.2–2.5 cm, leathery, dark brown or black. Flowering in spring, before the foliage emerges. Cialdella 1984, 1997. Distribution ARGENTINA; BOLIVIA; CHILE; PARAGUAY. Habitat Tolerant of a variety of habitats, though often found in coastal areas. Resistant to desertification; often invasive and difficult to eradicate (in humid areas). USDA Hardiness Zone 8–9. Conservation status Not evaluated. Illustration NT65, NT908.

Acacia caven is a fast-growing small tree which soon takes on a characterful appearance, its somewhat contorted trunks supporting a rounded canopy of thorny branches. The thorns are whitish and very sharp. The pinnate leaves are semi-deciduous to a degree that is probably dependent on water availability, but are fewest by early spring when the tree comes into flower. The deep-yellow flowers are produced in great abundance and are very fragrant, scenting the air around the tree. Although recommended for desert or semi-arid conditions in southern parts of the United States (Arid Zone Trees 2000–2008), A. caven is adaptable and grows successfully at Kew. The tree there is from a collection made by Watson & Pern (WAPE 6325) in low Andean foothills near Chillán, Bío-Bío, Chile, in 1988. Trees from the same collection also grow at the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley.

Masses of deep-yellow flower clusters appear on the branches of Acacia caven in spring. Image M. Gardner.

Acacia (Vachellia) caven. Elqui Valley, Monte Grande, Chile. Image M. Gardner.



Other species in the genus