Acacias: Santa Barbara's Yellow Trees

Just when the short, dark days of January begin to drag down your spirits, acacias announce that spring is coming. They burst into bloom, illuminating gardens, parks, even the edges of freeways and bringing golden color back into your life.

Chances are you might not have noticed them before – just another small, shrubby tree with ferny foliage. But when the clusters of tiny puff balls, which botanists refer to as “globose,” open, you (and your allergies) are likely to be dazzled anew. Suddenly you'll realize these yellow trees are everywhere.

Though there are hundreds of varieties worldwide in the crowded Acacia family of legumes (peas), around Santa Barbara, most trees are Acacia baileyeana. The tree is a native of New South Wales, Australia, a country that has brought us many of our Santa Barbara garden plants.

The acacia trees have just tinged yellow here, keep an eye out for the coming golden splendor.

- Phila Rogers