Animal feed resources information system

Huizache (Acacia farnesiana)

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This datasheet is pending revision and updating; its contents are currently derived from FAO's Animal Feed Resources Information System (1991-2002) and from Bo Göhl's Tropical Feeds (1976-1982).


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Common names 

Huizache, huisache, aroma, aromo creole, aromo macho, bayahonda, cachito, carbonero; cashia, coromo, espinial, espino blanco, rayo [Spanish]; cassie flower; fragrant acacia; huisache, mimosa bush, opopanax, popinac,sweet acacia [English]; cassie, cassie ancienne, acacie odorante, cassier, mimosa doux, mimosa de Farnèse[French]; antillenkazie [Dutch]


Acacia minuta (M. E. Jones) R. M. Beauch., Acacia smallii Isely, Mimosa farnesiana L., Pithecellobium minutum M. E. Jones, Vachellia densiflora Alexander ex Small, Vachellia farnesiana (L.) Wight & Arn.

Taxonomic information 

Huizache (Acacia farnesiana) belongs to the Fabaceae family. In 2005, the genus Acacia was split into 3 genus :

  • Acacia only attributed to Australian species
  • Vachellia and Senegalia gathering all other former Acacia species living in other places than Australia

Huizache should thus be named Vachellia farnesiana but many papers still refer to Acacia farnesiana. It was thus decided to keep the former taxon for this datasheet.

Related feed(s) 

Huizache is a fast-growing, showy, thorny, leguminous and evergreen or almost evergreen shrub. Huizache is a multipurpose species: it produces gum, its fragrant flowers are used to make perfumes and it can be cut to make forage for small ruminants in Central and South America. The shrub also hosts the lack insect and is attractive to bees.


Huizache can be cultivated as a shrub or small-sized tree that grows to a height of 1-10 m depending on the plant management. It can live 20- 50 years. It has a deep vertical taproot. The trunk is short and thin, many-branched from the base. The bark is smooth and becomes fissured with lenticels at maturity. The crown is rounded, 2-3 m in diameter. The branches are ascending, sometimes horizontally borne, armed with 0.6-2.5 cm long thorns at the nodes. Young twigs are dark brown in colour with light-colored dots. The leaves are alternate, leathery and bipinnate, 2-8 cm long, bearing 2-7 pairs of primary pinnae each bearing 10-25 pairs of leaflets. The flower-heads are axillary borne, solitary or grouped by 2-3, yellow in colour. The flowers are ball-shaped, bright yellow in colour. The fruit is a pod that is reddish brown to black when mature. It has a subcylindrical and slightly curved shape and it becomes dehiscent as it matures. Pods remain on the tree after maturity. The seeds are kidney-shaped, 6-8 mm long, sweet scented. The seedcoat is waterproof (CABI, 2018; Vazquez Yanes et al., 1999), 


Huizache is a valuable multipurpose species and all parts of the shrub can be used. The foliage and the pods are palatable to livestock and can be used as forage, especially in dry areas. The seeds are relished by birds. The flowers provide much appreciated essential oils for perfumes: in France it has been one of the most important acacia species (with A. dealbata and A. caven) for the French perfume industry in Grasse in the 19th and 20th centuries (Castellana et al., 2012). Green pods yield a sticky substance used as a glue and the trunk provides gum that is used as an arabic gum substitute. The bark and pods are useful for dyeing and tannins. The wood is used for posts, tools, and furniture it also makes valuable firewood. The tree can be planted as a fence and an ornamental scented species. It can also be useful for erosion control and is hase been used along roadsides, highways and parkings.  Huizache provides nesting cover for wildlife (CABI, 2018; Vazquez Yanes et al., 1999; Gilman et al., 1993).



Huizache is a tropical to subtropical species that is thought to have originated from Central America (CABI, 2018). In Americas, it occurs from southern USA to Mexico and southwards to Argentina (Erkovan et al., 2016). It has been introduced to the Old World by Spaniards (CABI, 2018). It was first described in Europe in 1625 after the observation of specimen grown in the gardens of the Villa Farnese in Rome,  Italy, hence the epithet "farnesiana". It had been brought from Santo Domingo (Bell et al., 2017). In Australia, it is thought that huizache could have arrived before English settlement, thus advocating for an ocenic dispersal from Mexico through the Pacific ocean to the northern coast of Australia (Bell et al., 2017). In Australia, huizache is referred to as an invasive species (CABI, 2018).

Huizache can be found in both hemispheres from 33 (-36)° S to 33°N, and from sea level up to 1000 - 1500 (-2000) m altitude. It is found in places where annual mean temperature range is 14.7–27.8°C. Huizache is a versatile, drought hardy species, only dropping its leaves during dry spells and it has also tolerance of frost in Mediterranean climate. It can grow on a wide range of soils from acidic to alkaline, saline or clayey soils preferably well-drained (PFAF, 2019; Erkovan et al., 2016; Gilman et al., 1993). Huizache is a full sunlight shrub and it can survive fire since it regrows from basal shoots (Erkovan et al., 2016).

Forage management 

Huizache can be propagated by seeds or cuttings (Gilman et al., 2013). Seed viability is very high it can survive 150 years thanks to the hard seedcoat. Natural conditions like fire, high temperatures, light abrasion and consumption by animals can break seed dormancy (Erkovan et al., 2016). Germination occurs within 3-4 weeks (Fern, 2014). The seedlings quickly produce long taproot and do not withstand disturbance: it is thus necessary to transplant them as soon as possible (Fern, 2014). Once established, huizache is a fast growing species able to regrow after damage or top removal. Soil disturbance and control of competing vegetation are valuable methods to improve growth and natural regeneration of huizache: pure stands can develop in only 2 to 3 growing seasons (Erkovan et al., 2016).

Environmental impact 

Invasive species

Huizache is referred to as an invasive species in many places from where it originated (Mexico, California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas) or where it has been introduced (Indonesia, Iraq, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Australia, French Polynesia, Solomon Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia, and Vanuatu)(CABI, 2018). 

Soil improver and erosion control

Huizache is a N-fixing tree that has positive effects N status of the soil (though no quantitative information is reported) (Erkovan et al., 2016; Herrera-Arreola et al., 2007). It also increases soil organic matter when it drops its leaves thus improving soil structure and subsequent water infiltration (Herrera-Arreola et al., 2007). Huizache can bind sandy soils (Erkovan et al., 2016).

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

Raw seeds of Acacia farnesiana have a quite high content in crude protein (23%/DM) with high concentrations of histidine, valine, threonine, leucine and isoleucine, but low concentrations of lysine and methionine+ cystine (Barrientos-Ramirez et al., 2012). They also contain 11.6 % of tannins with 9.7 % of condensed tannins with high antioxidant activity (Cuchillo et al., 2013; Barrientos-Ramirez et al., 2012). To counteract the defaunating effect of tannins, polyethylene glycol (PEG) could be added to mimosa bush samples and was able to maintain protozoa population, at least in in vitro experiments because the PEG reduces the astringency of tanins and favors the action of the rumen flora to increase the variability of nutrients (Monforte-Briceno et al., 2005; Olivares-Pérez et al., 2014; Olivares-Perez et al., 2019).

Husk crude protein content is lower than that of seeds (Barrientos-Ramirez et al., 2012).

Samples of leaves and twigs as eaten by small ruminants had a crude protein content of 17%, but a crude fibre content of 30 % (Ramirez et al., 2000; Monforte-Briceno et al., 2005; Boubekeur et al., 2017). The crude protein contents are quite high in comparison to the other plants available at the same period in the same country (Corniaux et al., 1996; Ramirez et al., 1997a; Boubekeur et al., 2017). Nevertheless, the chemical composition and therefore the nutritive value varies along the year with a higher degradation in summer and autumn than in winter which means a better nutritive value in summer and autumn (Ramirez et al., 1999). It shows also variation between countries probably due to differences in agronomical conditions (Zhou et al., 2011). Even if the mineral composition of Acacia farnesiana is less variable than for other browse species in Mexico, the Ca, Mg, K and Mn levels meet adult goat requirements, but animals need to be supplemented in P, Zn and Cu (Ramirez et al., 2001).


A thorny species, huizache (Acacia farnesiana) it is not eaten by cattle, but just used by small ruminants. Nevertheless, it is palatable to deer that might be in competition for food with small ruminants (Ramirez et al., 1997b). The nutritive value of huizache can be of interest during the dry season in Mexico compared to the other plants available at that time (Landa-Becerra et al., 2016). Small ruminants browse branches and leaves from the tree. They might also receive some parts, like seeds and hulls.


Compared to the other plants available in the same countries, huizache is of nutritional interest for small ruminants due to its high protein content, low fiber content and high in vitro digestibility (Corniaux et al., 1996; Garcia-Montes de Oca et al., 2011).

Huizache is one of the preferred browse plants by goats in Mexico because it shows smooth and waxy leaf surfaces without trichomes (Ramirez et al., 1997a; Franco-Guerra et al., 2008; Franco-Guerra et al., 2011; Foroughbakhch et al., 2012). It is also palatable to goats in Zimbabwe (Reiss et al., 1990). It seems however less palatable than Guazuma ulmifolia (Villa-Herrera et al., 2010).

Huizacheshrubs are of interest as supplementary feed for goats : the nitrogen utilization and intake levels were similar to those of goats offered lucerne hay (Ramirez et al., 1997a).


Fruits of huizache are relished by sheep and goats. They were that better consumed than pods of Acacia macilenta but lesser than those of A. cochliacantha by sheep (Quiroz-Cardoso et al., 2015; Rojas-Hernandez et al., 2016).

Dry and ground pods of huizache could be utilized in the feeding of wool-sheep up to 40% of the diet in combination with maize fodder, without signs of clinical toxicity (Velázquez-Avendaño et al., 2005). With isoproteic diets incorporating up to 40 % pods of A. farnesiana, the best level of inclusion is 20% because voluntary intake and wool growth are the highest at this level that loweres food costs (Velázquez et al., 2011). For other authors, the inclusion of A. farnesiana should not be higher than 12¨% (Garcia-Winder et al., 2009). An other way of using fruits of acacia is to include them in nutritional blocks as a feed supplement. They increased consumption of total dry matter, without affecting the digestibility of the diet and weight gain of sheep (Rojas-Hernandez et al., 2015). Low amounts of A. farnesiana affects positively digestibility and overall feed intake of low-quality roughage by sheep due to its high protein content (Ramirez et al., 1998).

As a matter of conclusion, Acacia farnesiana may be considered as excellent plant protein source and can be incorporated into small ruminant feeding systems in arid and semi-arid region.



No information found (as of 2019).


No information could be found about the use of huizache seeds for poultry though it was reported to be relished by birds (Gilman et al., 1993).



Information available in the international literature on the use of huizache leaves as forage for rabbits is very scarce (August 2019). However it’s claimed that this shrubby plant is browsed by sheep, goat, horse, camel, deer and rabbits (Erkovan et al., 2016). It was effectively observed that rabbits cut the top of huizache seedlings, but don’t eat the whole young growing plant (Meyer at al., 1982). In a familial management of rabbitry in Columbia, acceptable growth performance was obtained with sugar cane juice + various types of tree foliage. However despite an interesting crude protein content of huizache leaves (17.8% DM) results were lower with this foliage, compared to Erythrina spp, Gliricidia sepium or Trichantera gigantea forages. (Solarte, 1989). This poor result may be related to the relatively low content of huizache proteins in lysine (4.7 g/16 g N) and their very low content of sulfur amino acids (Duke, 1981).

Pods and seeds

As for huizache leaves, information of the use of huizache pods in rabbit feeding is very scarce. However it should be noticed that in Gran Canaria Island local wild rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) consume huizache pods all the year round. The nutritional valorisation of the whole pods is not complete since about 10% if huizache seeds were recovered intact and viable in the rabbits droppings, situation explaining the role of rabbits in the dissemination of this plant in the surrounding area (Pascual et al., 2009). Thus, as for sheep (Garcia-Winder et al., 2009), ground whole huizache pods (flesh and seeds) may be considered as a potential raw material for rabbits feeding, mainly as source of energy in relation with the moderate content of proteins (12-13% DM) and fibre (13-14% crude fibre in DM) . However because of the presence of trypsin inhibitor at 50-70 TIU/g (Ortega-Nieblas et al., 1996) and of a high content of tannins, about 13% of total tannins (Garcia-Winder et al., 2009), before any experimental studies the incorporation level of huizache pods in rabbit diets may reasonably not exceed 10%.

Nutritional tables
Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value 

Avg: average or predicted value; SD: standard deviation; Min: minimum value; Max: maximum value; Nb: number of values (samples) used

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This datasheet is pending revision and updating; its contents are currently derived from FAO's Animal Feed Resources Information System (1991-2002) and from Bo Göhl's Tropical Feeds (1976-1982).

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 58.6 1
Crude protein % DM 17.6 17.2 18.0 2
Crude fibre % DM 19.6 19.4 19.8 2
Ether extract % DM 1.8 1.6 2.0 2
Ash % DM 3.9 3.7 4.1 2
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.8 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 4.4 3.3 5.5 2
Phosphorus g/kg DM 2.0 2.0 2.0 2
Potassium g/kg DM 10.6 1
Sodium g/kg DM 0.8 1
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 87.8 *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 84.0 *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 15.8 *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 12.8 *
Pig nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Energy digestibility, growing pig % 59.3 *
DE growing pig MJ/kg DM 11.2 *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


CIRAD, 1991; Gurney, 1934

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:44:36

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Crude protein % DM 20.9 1
Crude fibre % DM 18.3 1
Ether extract % DM 2.3 1
Ash % DM 3.8 1
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 19.1 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 3.9 1
Phosphorus g/kg DM 2.7 1
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 88.2 *
Pig nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Energy digestibility, growing pig % 61.4 *
DE growing pig MJ/kg DM 11.7 *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


Gurney, 1934

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:44:36

Datasheet citation 

DATASHEET UNDER CONSTRUCTION. DO NOT QUOTE. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/353 Last updated on September 18, 2019, 15:41