I live on an arid island and it's summer - meaning that most every plant that isn't irrigated or a succulent is dead or dying.

However, I walked through a disused quarry today and amid all the desert there was a magnificent, huge bush brimming with life!

It is extremely unlikely that someone is watering it, and it's located on a hillside so there doesn't seem to be any natural irrigation (other than the morning dew).

I would like to propagate this plant and grow it where I live. We are at risk of flash floods and urgently need to stabilize the soil around the property. This bush looks like it could help.

Can anyone help me tell what kind it is - and in a next step perhaps, how to propagate it? (Although I might be able to find that out on the Internet as soon as I know the genus.)

It seems to all be coming from one stem, if that helps. It's not like a fig that grows loads of saplings underneath if you let it.

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    Are those yellow flowers part of this large shrub or are they separate? Please check!
    – stormy
    Aug 7, 2016 at 23:31
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    It is hard to answer. It appears the yellow flowers are from another plant. If they are indeed from the same plant, it is a bit odd they are not more prevalent. We also need the location of your island. It is quite possible that whenever the quarry was active, someone did plant and care for this bush and since then it has just put down deep roots and may be getting water from an old well or something. To me, this looks like a variation of Nerium oleander. Aug 7, 2016 at 23:37
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    Thanks guys! I am fairly sure the flowers are part of the plant, they seemed to be all over. But I'll go back and check. The island is one of the Canary islands, off the coast of Morocco. The roots theory is interesting.
    – Pekka
    Aug 8, 2016 at 0:30
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    When you go back and check, please take close ups of the plant, leaf clusters and the flowers. The flowers make me think it is a member of Asteraceae. Is there a local ecological/biological society in your area. The stems look hardy, so propagation might be done easily in cool seasons off the stem. Aug 8, 2016 at 2:10
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    I'm also suspecting that the plant has tapped into an unseen underground water source. In the desert areas I am familiar with a traditional way of finding underground springs is to look for trees or shrubs like this one that stay green in the dry season.
    – michelle
    Aug 8, 2016 at 19:16

2 Answers 2


I believe this to be Acacia wirilda or retinoides or pycnantha. As I mentioned in my comment to your question, the Acacia genus is huge and it could be one of many. But I truly think that this is an Acacia of some sort.

The "leaves" that you see are actually flattened stems called phyllodes.

Here is a good link in regards to Acacia propagation: Cultivation of Acacias

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Looks like a willow which would be perfect for quick growth, hardiness, low disease/insect problems. I would go to your nursery that seems to have knowledgeable people, and check for willows in 1 gallon to purchase. My favorite is Blue Arctic Willow, Salix purpurea 'nana'. Great shrub for wind breaks, soil retention and can even be pruned to stay small and tight...gorgeous plant. Even the 'nana' grows to 20-30 feet high and wide. Dense, gorgeous cinnamon brown flexible stems that look wonderful during the winters.

I wouldn't bother with propagating this shrub, at the nursery they will know the name of this plant and they should have great nursery starts very affordable. If you are a major gardener of course you can get your own going...it will take a few years to get to a decent size to transplant.

  • If it is a willow it should be extremely easy to root a branch of it (I hear just sticking it in the soil and waiting works--not in a container, particularly). Of course, you'd probably want to water it, and keep it out of direct sun for a while after taking the cutting. Aug 9, 2016 at 8:38
  • Pekka says this plant is found on the Canary Islands so Arctic Willow would not be a good choice to introduce. Where you get some cold weather this grows like a weed. It almost grows too fast.....
    – kevinskio
    Aug 9, 2016 at 17:56
  • Kevinsky...why would it not work there? Too tropical? I've always imagined tough plants could grow in any of the upper zones. I am sure I am wrong...Canary Islands are Tropical or subtropical? What would be the limiting factors? Anyhoo, this is a great question. Is Acacia correct? I love learning new stuff.
    – stormy
    Aug 9, 2016 at 20:18
  • Oh! Are you saying it would be bad to introduce an exotic species? I agree.
    – stormy
    Aug 9, 2016 at 20:19

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