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Acacia excelsa

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Acacia excelsa Benth., in T.L.Mitchell, J. Exped. Trop. Australia 225 (1848)

Ironwood, Rosewood, Doodlallie, Bunkerman

Tree to 20 m high, commonly with a weeping habit. Bark hard, fissured, dark grey. Branchlets glabrous. Phyllodes narrowly elliptic, straight to recurved, (3–) 4–6.5 (–9) cm long, 3–16 (–26) mm wide, obtuse or sometimes acute, glabrous, with 3–7 distant, subprominent main nerves per face with anastomosing minor nerves present or absent inbetween; pulvinus often subcompressed and extending into blade inequilaterally. Inflorescences normally simple or in normally 1-headed, rudimentary racemes with minute axes, 2–4 per axil; peduncles 5–15 mm long, glabrous; basal bract persistent; heads globular, 5–8 mm diam., 25–35-flowered, creamy white to pale yellow; bracteoles obtuse. Flowers 5-merous; sepals free. Pods linear, flat, breaking at constrictions into one-seeded segments, to 11 cm long, 6–9 (–12) mm wide, firmly chartaceous to coriaceous, glabrous, narrowly winged. Seeds longitudinal, broadly elliptic, 5–6 mm long, dull, brown, exarillate with filiform funicle.

The pulvinus of A. excelsa is unusual in that it extends in a clearly delimited, fan-like projection into the tissue of the blade.

Widely scattered distribution in southern inland parts of Qld, extending into N.S.W.

Related to A. estrophiolata which differs mainly in phyllode dimensions. Also, in A. estrophiolata the phyllodes are commonly slightly kinked at the gland, a character seemingly absent from A. excelsa . Also related to A. armillata .

As noted by L.Pedley, Austrobaileya 1: 213 (1980), the phyllodes vary considerably in size, even on the one tree.

Comprises two subspecies differing principally in the length to width ratio and venation of the phyllodes.

Phyllodes (5–) 8–16 (–26) mm wide, l:w = (3–) 4–7 (–10), with 3–7 main longitudinal nerves per face

subsp. excelsa

Phyllodes 3–5.5 mm wide, l:w = 9–15 (–18), with 3 main nerves

subsp. angusta


Acacia excelsa Benth. subsp. excelsa

Phyllodes (3–) 4–6.5 (–9) cm long, (5–) 8–16 (–26) mm wide, l:w = (3–) 4–7 (–10), with 3–7 main longitudinal nerves and minor nerves occasionally to frequently anastomosing. Pod segments often elliptic and tapered at each end.

Rather frequent occurrence in Qld, primarily from the 20o S to the Condobolin area of central NSW. Grows in yellow or brown gravelly, sandy or clayey soils in eucalypt woodland.

Type of accepted name

Subtropical New Holland [E bank of Nogoa R. opposite Martins Ra., Qld], 6 July 1846, T.Mitchell ‘187’ ; lecto: K, fide R.S.Cowan & B.R.Maslin, Nuytsia 10: 78 (1995); subtropical New Holland, July 1846, T.L.Mitchell ‘171’ ; paralecto: K; subtropical Australia, T.Mitchell, ‘7 Bidwill’ ; paralecto: K.


Racosperma excelsum (Benth.) Pedley, Austrobaileya 2: 348 (1987); Racosperma excelsum (Benth.) Pedley subsp. excelsum , Austrobaileya 2: 348 (1987). Type: as for accepted name.

Acacia daintreeana F.Muell., Fragm . 4: 6 (1863); A. excelsa var. daintreeana (F.Muell.) Domin (as ‘daintreana’), Biblioth. Bot. 89: 264 (1926). Type: Clarke R., Qld, R.Daintree ; holo: MEL n.v. , fide L.Pedley, Austrobaileya 1: 212 (1978); iso: K.

Acacia excelsa var. glaucescens Domin, Biblioth. Bot. 89: 263 (1926). Type: Dividing Ra. near Jericho, Qld, 1910, K.Domin ‘5134’, ‘5135’ & ‘5138’ ; syn: PR; L.Pedley, Austrobaileya 1: 212 (1978), cited an unspecified PR specimen as the holotype of this name.

Acacia excelsa var. polyphleba Domin, Biblioth. Bot. 89: 263 (1926). Type: savanna forest near Pentland, Qld, 1910, K.Domin ‘5136’, ‘5137’, ‘5443’ & ‘5444’ ; syn: PR; L.Pedley, Austrobaileya 1: 212 (1978), cited an unspecified PR specimen as the holotype of this name.

Acacia excelsa var. typica Domin, Biblioth. Bot. 89: 263 (1926), nom. inval.


J.H.Maiden, Forest Fl. New South Wales 4: 39, pl. 125A–K (1908); M.Simmons, Acacias Australia 2: 203 (1988); T.Tame, Acacias SE Australia 67, figs 49a–c, pl. 49 (1992).

Representative collections

Qld: 10.5 km SW of Hidden Valley (P.O.), R.Cumming 3273 (BRI, PERTH); Peak Downs, F.Mueller 36 (K); 64 km NE of Richmond Township, N.H.Speck 4481 (BRI, NSW, PERTH). N.S.W.: ‘Iolanthe’, 16 miles [26 km] W of Garah, K.L.Solling 505 (NSW).


Acacia excelsa Benth. subsp. angusta Pedley, Austrobaileya 1: 213 (1978)

Phyllodes 4–6 (–7.5) cm long, 3–5.5 mm wide, l:w = 9–15 (–18), with 3 main longitudinal nerves and anastomoses absent or few. Pod segments subcircular.

Widely scattered from south of Mount Isa, Qld, to northern N.S.W., mostly along the western range of the typical subspecies but with a few collections from E of the main distribution. Grows commonly in red sandy loam with mulga and in eucalypt woodland.

Type of accepted name

Near Mistake Ck, c. 100 miles [160 km] S of Cloncurry, Qld, June 1934, S.T.Blake 6414 ; holo: BRI.


Racosperma excelsum subsp. angustum (Pedley) Pedley, Austrobaileya 2: 348 (1987). Type: as for accepted name.


T.Tame, Acacias SE Australia 67, fig. 49d–e (1992)

Representative collections

Qld: 59 km S of Mount Isa, P.L.Harris 19 (BRI); Narayen, W of airstrip, G.W.McHarg N1492 (BRI); Milo HS, 20 km NNW of Adavale, C.Sandercoe 2018 (BRI). NSW: 62.4 km W of Bourke on Wanaaring road, D.F.Blaxell 592 (BRI, CANB, K, MEL, NSW, US).


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: Tuesday 24 August 2021