Fuzzy Wuzzy

Spring is progressing apace, new foliage and flowers appearing, posthaste. My diverse garden community offers varied, interesting blooms, each with their own timeline for appearing, each with their own story and role in this ecosystem. Puffy and playful, the fuzzy spring looms of the Goldenball Leadtree, Leucaena retusa, are glorious golden decorations in a shady part of my garden

This tree is also called Little-leaf tree, or Lemon ball tree–names I find poetic–and except for the ‘goldenball’ part, I find the moniker Goldenball Leadtree a bit klunky. If I’d been asked, I might have named it Golden Koosh Glory tree, or Magnificent Yellow Fuzzy-Wonder tree. Nomenclature aside, what isn’t klunky is the lovely, airy form of this tree.

Shortly after the foliage appeared, blooms begin.

Goldenball Leadtree is a small, shade to part-shade tree, perfect for a small to moderate sized urban garden.

The tree in near full bloom mode.

Flowers begin developing in early March, shortly after the foliage returns from winter’s dormancy. Blooming peaks in April, and slowly declines through May and June. Autumn rains often bring a late season gift of a few of these fuzzy delights. Foliage is delicate and little leafed, colored in pretty, bright green, until a hard freeze unceremoniously drops the leaves.

Developing buds remind me of certain unripe berries.

In sunshine or shade, the tree is a joy in the garden.

The Goldenball Leadtree is in the Pea, or Fabaceae family. Most of the other plants that I grow producing fuzzy flowers belong to the Aster, or Asteraceae, family. I also grow plants that aren’t fuzzy in their flower form, but once they’ve gone to seed, fuzzy, usually soft, structures carry seeds on the wind to parts unknown.

In the light shade of the Goldenball Leadtree, sits a stand of more golden goodness, a small patch of Golden Groundsel, Packera obovata. Diminutive ray flowers accompany the larger goldenball blooms in their early spring show. Once the blooms are done, cottony-soft seed balls appear, awaiting wind, landing in a new place.

Spring is a bounty: lush green, color galore. These are but two of the flowering plants in my spring garden. What’s flowering in yours?

21 thoughts on “Fuzzy Wuzzy

    • You’re right about that, I really hadn’t realized that. We have lots of summer blooming yellows, but spring usually has those softer pinks-n-whites. That said, it’s a gentle yellow, not screaming LOOK AT ME! 🙂

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  1. I enjoyed getting to know your fuzzy-wuzzies, Tina.
    As you might surmise after my last post, nothing is flowering in your yard yet. But I’m happy to report that our spring bulbs are ready for spring, with hyacinths and daffodils pushing their noses through the soil. 😊


  2. The only place I’ve ever seen (and therefore photographed) a goldenball leadtree is at the Wildflower Center, where on has been growing outside the office building for years. I couldn’t remember if the little flower globes smell fragrant; the Wildflower Center says they do. That’s another plus for you, especially as it will take any huisaches some more time to rebound from the 2021 deep freeze. As for golden groundsel, at the site in far northwest Austin where I’m used to finding a colony of it each spring, this spring’s crop was below average.


    • It was that very Goldenball Leadtree at the Wildflower Center that I fell in love with years ago. I finally found a place where one would fit and here we are! That’s a really pretty specimen, though I haven’t been there in a while–I should fix that. Like you, I’ve noticed that my groundsels aren’t very hardy this year. That whole patch has really struggled with our drought and the super hot summers. Here’s hoping for more rain this summer and maybe slightly cooler temps??


  3. Sweet blooms– reminds me of Acacia, another leguminous tree. Is it native to TX?
    While we still have snow over most of our yard, there are pockets of bare earth and that is where over the years, I’ve planted snowdrops and other early bulbs. Today I noticed Iris reticulata, which I will post tomorrow. Spring comes slowly to New England!


    • They are kind of similar, the acacias being a brighter yellow and I think a bigger tree. It is native to Texas, specifically to the Edwards Plateau region, which is west of here and even further west. My soil is a bit heavier and with more clay, but the tree has thrived and seems happy. I’m glad your spring things are emerging. It really must be such a joyous sight, after your long winter!

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  4. It resembles the related but invasive (here) silver wattle. Silver wattle may have bigger bunches of bloom, but smaller fuzzy wuzzies. They normally finish by February, but were beaten down and delayed this year. Some might still be blooming somewhat.


  5. I do love Packera! P. anonyma grows nicely behind my house; it’s not nearly as aggressive as I’ve heard some say. No blooms yet. I started P. aurea from seed in milk jugs this spring, but nothing’s germinated so far. I read that it’s very slow.
    Your little tree is lovely.


    • Good luck with your germination. It’s so dry and warm here, I’m having to water seedlings that I’m moving around. That doesn’t usually happen until June.

      Thanks, Julie–I really like this little tree!


  6. It’s interesting that your P. aurea seems a little thin this year. Might it just be lagging? Last weekend, I was astounded to find entire fields filled with P. glabella and P. tampicana. At least those plants are considerate enough to provide easily recognizable leaves!

    On the other hand, our local huisache are already producing leaves; it may be that their blooms will be absent this year.

    I do like your tree. The little round buds looked so much like sensitive briar to me that I went looking, and sure enough: those plants are in the Mimosa genus, where huisache used to dwell, and after digging a bit, I learned that L. retusa is in the “mimosoid clade.” How about that? Now I have to learn more about ‘clades,’ since that was a term new to me.

    Speaking of poetic, how about this, from about 70 years ago?

    “Fuzzy Wuzzy wuz a bear;
    Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair.
    Fuzzy Wuzzy wuzn’t fuzzy, wuz he?”


    • I think Steve also mention a stand that he visits annually as being less this year. I’m putting it to the drought, but our summers have been so hot and dry these last couple of years, my patch has suffered with that. Boo!

      My original title for this post was “Fuzzy Wuzzy was a Flower”–so I do know your little ditty! I just didn’t think anyone would get it and I didn’t want to explain it, so I truncated to “Fuzzy Wuzzy”! I’m in sync with Linda–win!!

      Oh, and I don’t know anything about clades either. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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