Purple fernleaf acacia
Acacia bayleyana purpurea
Planting areas: USDA Zones 9 to 11
Size: 20 to 30 feet tall and wide.
Bloom season: Late winter to spring.
Exposure: Full sun, will tolerate some shade.
Pruning needs: Minor pruning will improve shape and health of tree while promoting growth.
Water needs: Low water once established.
Snapshot: Purple fernleaf acacia is a small, evergreen tree originating in Australia. It grows quickly and is low-maintenance, easy on your water bill and interesting in the color department.
No wonder it was the recipient of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit in 1993.
Bright yellow, globe-shaped blooms brighten your landscape just as the winter doldrums begin to set in.
The plump, almost fuzzy-looking flowers bounce against sharp, deep purple and blue-gray leaves. The combination is a bit rough-and-tumble, like kindergartners seated on a rug, but so compelling that you may find yourself embroiled in deep neighborly conversations about the capricious nature of color.
To add to the drama, the flowers are sweetly fragrant, so don’t be surprised if napping cats take up space underneath your tree.
Once the acacia is comfortably mature, it will put out sizable seed pods.
In general, this tree requires little pruning. It attracts birds and butterflies, but deer are not interested. Once established, purple fernleaf acacia is sturdy enough to handle short periods of drought. It is also frost tolerant to about 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
Equally happy inland and in coastal environments, this is a nice specimen tree for your San Luis Obispo County garden. Just give it a sunny, well-drained spot with fertile soil and moderate irrigation, and it’ll be set to grow.