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Acacia farnesiana

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Acacia farnesiana (L.) Willd., Sp. Pl. 4th edn, 4: 1083 (1806)

Cassie, Cassy , Dead Finish , Farnese Wattle , Mimosa Wattle , Mimosa Bush , Prickly Mimosa Bush , Prickly Moses , Needle Bush , North-west Curara , Sheep’s Briar , Sponge Wattle , Sweet Acacia , Thorny Acacia , Thorny Feather-wattle , Wild Briar

Rounded, often spreading, multistemmed shrub to 4 m high, occasionally a small tree to 7 m high. Bark smooth or finely fissured. Branchlets flexuose, glabrous, prominently lenticellate. Stipular spines 2–30 (–45) mm long. Leaves: petiole 0.2–2 cm long, pubescent, with a gland mostly at or above the middle; rachis 0.3–5.5 cm long, sparsely to densely pubescent especially above, sometimes with a small gland at apex, rarely with other jugary glands; pinnae 1–7 pairs, 0.7–4.2 (–5) cm long; pinnules 5–15 (–23) pairs, mostly narrowly oblong or slightly oblanceolate, 1.2–11.5 (–15) mm long, 0.5–2.5 (–3.5) mm wide, obtuse, concolorous, with prominent stomata, ciliolate mostly near base or glabrous, with midnerve and lateral nerves more visible and raised beneath. Inflorescences simple, 1–3 (- 6) in axils; peduncles (3–) 8–30 (–57) mm long, with involucel of bracts at apex and hidden by flowers; heads globular, (33–) 40–95-flowered, orange-yellow to bright golden, sweetly scented. Mature pods subterete to terete, 1.5–8.5 cm long, 8–17 mm wide, turgid, dark brown to black, obliquely to longitudinally finely striate, sometimes with ridges, glabrous, indehiscent. Seeds separated by pith.

Widespread throughout northern Australia (though absent from extreme north), north-eastern S.A. and the North Coast to western N.S.W. as far S as Jerilderie; scattered or forming dense thickets, in low open woodland, woodland, tall open shrubland, grassland and occasionally low open forest, in alluvial clay soils and other heavy soils as well as sandy loams, frequently on open plains, floodplains and near watercourses. Flowers mostly June–Sept., however flowers irregularly throughout the year; fruits mostly Nov.–May, however may fruit throughout the year.

Believed to have been introduced to Australia before European settlement, from Central America (where it is native) via the Philippines. Also found in subtropical and tropical America, Africa and Asia, often being naturalised. Roasted pods of A. farnesiana are eaten by Aborigines. The foliage and young, green pods are palatable to cattle and sheep. Acacia farnesiana is a potential weed of grasslands, and according to E.Anderson, Pl. Central Queensland 26 (1993) it invades trampled areas, particularly along watercourses. Details of ecology, utilisation, etc. of A. farnesiana in Australia are given by N.Hall et al ., CSIRO Forest Res. Australian Acacias No. 15 (1981). Acacia farnesiana is favoured for its fragrant flowers and is cultivated in Mediterranean countries to manufacture perfumes.

See A. nilotica subsp. indica .

Type of accepted name

Plate, Aldinus: Exactissima descriptio rariorum plantarum Romae in Horto Farnesiano 4 (1625); lecto, fide J.H.Ross, Bothalia 11: 471, fig. 1 (1975). See also D.Isely, Sida 3: 376 (1969).


Mimosa farnesiana L., Sp. Pl . 1: 521 (1753); ? Mimosa suaveolens Salisb., Prodr. Stirp. Chap. Allerton 325 (1796), nom. illeg .; Vachellia farnesiana (L.) Wight & Arn., Prodr. Fl. Ind. Orient . 272 (1834); Popanax farnesiana (L.) Raf., Sylva Tellur . 118 (1838); Farnesia odora Gasp., Descr. Nuov. Gen. Leg . (1836), nom. illeg . Type: as for accepted name.

Acacia lenticellata F.Muell., J. Proc. Linn. Soc., Bot . 3: 147 (1859); A. farnesiana var. lenticellata (F.Muell.) F.M.Bailey, Compr. Cat. Queensland Pl. 164 (1913). Type: around lagoons, Arnhem Ld [Land], [N.T.], 15 July 1856, F.Mueller ; lecto: MEL, fide J.H.Ross (to be published in Appendix to Fl. Australia vol. 11, 2001) ; Albert River, [Qld], 30 Aug. 1856, F.Mueller ; paralecto: MEL; McArthur River, [N.T.], F.Mueller 43 ; paralecto: K, MEL.

Doubtful name

Acacia guttata Hoffmanns.: see Doubtful Names.


B.A.Lebler, Queensland Agric. J . 105: 213 (1979); G.M.Cunningham et al ., Pl. W. New South Wales 361 (1981); M.Simmons, Acacias Australia 1: 315 & pl. 2 (1987); D.J.E.Whibley & D.E.Symon, Acacias S. Australia 2nd edn, 293 (1992).

Representative collections

W.A.: Upper Rudall R. area, B.R.Maslin 2085 (BRI, K, NSW, PERTH). N.T.: c. 500 m SW from the East Baines R. Crossing, Victoria Hwy, M.D.Tindale 10124 et al. (BRI, DNA, NSW). S.A.: 46.6 km from Oodnadatta towards William Ck, C.H.Gittins 2719 (NSW). Qld: 1 km from Archer Point turnoff towards Lakeland Downs on the Cooktown- Lakeland Downs road, J.R.Clarkson 5461 (BRI, DNA, K, MEL, NSW, PERTH, QRS). N.S.W.: Broke, R.Coveny 6522 & J.Powell (CANB, K, MEL, NSW, US); 33 km E from Conargo towards Jerilderie, A.Slee 2400 (BRI, CANB, MEL, NSW, 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: Tuesday 21 July 2020