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Acacia cuthbertsonii

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Acacia cuthbertsonii Luehm. (as ‘Cuthbertsoni’), Victorian Naturalist 13: 117 (1897)

Bushy, often gnarled, shrub or tree 1–4 m high. Branchlets silvery sericeous. Phyllodes elliptic to narrowly elliptic or linear, straight to shallowly incurved, flat to compressed, rarely terete, 3–11 cm long, 1–20 mm wide, acute and commonly mucronate, innocuous or sometimes coarsely pungent, subrigid, usually silvery sericeous, with numerous distant or subdistant, rather obscure nerves which sometimes (in subsp. cuthbertsonii ) anastomose; glands 1–3, lowermost 3–28 mm above pulvinus. Infloresences simple, 2 per axil; peduncles 2–11 mm long, short-sericeous; spikes 10–34 mm long, 3–4 mm diam., interrupted, golden; receptacles short-sericeous with silver or light golden hairs. Flowers 5-merous; sepals c. 1/5 length of petals, united. Pods narrowly oblong to linear, straight-edged or shallowly constricted between seeds, mostly shallowly to markedly curved, commonly compressed, to 14 cm long, 11–22 mm wide, woody, glabrous, drying yellowish and with strong wrinkling. Seeds longitudinal, broadly elliptic to subcircular, 7.5–9 mm long, dull, brown; aril a small, terminal, scalloped pad.

Widespread in arid areas of W.A. and N.T.

There is considerable variation in the shape and dimensions of the phyllodes and in the pods, fide R.S.Cowan & B.R.Maslin, Nuytsia 10: 24 (1995). This variation appears to be independent of other morphologic, geographic or ecologic factors.

Bark used traditionally by N.T. aborigines as a headache remedy and in the manufacture of fracture splints; bark reportedly used for pain relief and as a fibre source in W.A., fide Aboriginal Communities of the Northern Territory, Traditional Aboriginal Medicines in the N. Terr. of Australia 10- 11 (1993).

The nearest relatives are A. levata and A. wanyu ; it is also possibly related to A. pachycarpa . The shape and relative proportions of the phyllodes are the basis for the admittedly rather arbitrary separation of the two subspecies.

Phyllodes 3- 10 (- 20) mm wide, elliptic, narrowly elliptic to linear-elliptic, flat

subsp. cuthbertsonii

Phyllodes 1- 1.5 mm wide, narrowly linear, terete to flat

subsp. linearis


Acacia cuthbertsonii Luehm. subsp. cuthbertsonii

Phyllodes elliptic to narrowly elliptic or linear-elliptic, flat, 3–8.5 cm long, 3–10 (- 20) mm wide, l:w = 2.5–14; central nerve the most evident; lateral nerves when present longitudinally orientated and sometimes sparingly to moderately anastomosing. Seeds broadly elliptic, 7.5 mm long.

Widespread from inland of Shark Bay and Kalbarri, W.A., eastward to S of Tennant Creek, central N.T. Commonly in stony sand along creeks and drainage lines, often on hillocks but also on plains, mostly with mulga and spinifex.

There is considerable variation in phyllode width and shape with very narrow phyllode forms approaching subsp. linearis whose phyllodes are much longer in relation to their width.

Acacia levata was formerly confused with this subspecies.

Type of accepted name

Between the Murchison and Gascoyne Rivers, W.A., W.Cuthbertson ; syn: MEL, NSW (dated 1888); Mount Narryer, W.A., I.Tyson ; syn: MEL, NSW; Western Australia, 1888, W.Cuthbertson ; probable syn: MEL; Murchison district, 1888, W.Cuthbertson ; probable syn: PERTH (Fragment ex B).


B.R.Maslin, in J.P.Jessop (ed.), Fl. Central Australia 125, fig. 161H (1981); M.Simmons, Acacias Australia 2: 241 (1988).

Representative collections

W.A.: Wiluna Rd, 80 km W of Carnegie, U.Johnson 41 (K, NSW, PERTH); Mt James Stn, 53 km N of Landor HS on track to Mt Augustus Stn, B.R.Maslin 5189a (PERTH); 30.5 km N of Gordon Downs Stn, R.A.Perry & M.Lazarides 2439 (CANB n.v ., NSW, PERTH). N.T.: 77 km N of Aileron, Stuart Hwy, J.R.Maconochie 976 (DNA, NSW, PERTH); 270 km N Alice Springs, 16 km S Barrow Ck, J.R.Maconochie 2502 (CANB, DNA, PERTH).


Acacia cuthbertsonii subsp. linearis R.S.Cowan & Maslin, Nuytsia 10: 25 (1995)

Phyllodes narrowly linear, compressed ranging to terete or flat, 5–11 cm long, 1–1.5 mm wide, l:w = 33–110; nerves not anastomosing. Seeds broadly elliptic to turgidly subdiscoid, 8–9 mm long.< /FONT >

Occurs inland from southern end of Shark Bay E to Meekatharra and Bulloo Downs Stn. (c. 75 km S of Newman), W.A.; in a few locations near populations of the typical subspecies. Grows commonly in often stony sand and clay on gibber plains or stony rises along creek lines, sometimes in saline conditions.

The B. Kok specimen from Tangadee Stn. (PERTH00605905) noted in R.S.Cowan & B.R.Maslin, loc. cit. , has hairy phyllodes but the indumentum is sparser than is normal for the subspecies.

Very close to A. wanyu ; the possibility of hybrids between the two species is discussed under A. wanyu .

Type of accepted name

Towrana Stn, W.A., 8 Apr. 1981, A.L.Payne 39 ; holo: PERTH; iso: CANB.

Representative collections

W.A. 18 km E of Meekatharra on road to Wiluna, J.W.Green 5301 (K, PERTH); c. 5 km S of Meekatharra on Great Northern Hwy, B.R.Maslin 5387 (PERTH); Bulloo Downs on Meekatharra Rd, 15 June 1976, A.A.Mitchell s.n . (PERTH); 3.2 km W of Weedarrah Outcamp, Bidgemia Stn, D.G.Wilcox 163 (PERTH).


WATTLE Acacias of Australia CD-ROM graphic

The information presented here originally appeared on the WATTLE CD-ROM which was jointly published by the Australian Biological Resources Study, Canberra, and the Department of Parks and Wildlife, Perth; it was produced by CSIRO Publishing from where it is available for purchase. The WATTLE custodians are thanked for allowing us to post this information here.

Page last updated: Thursday 22 June 2023