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Acacia alata

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Acacia alata R.Br., in W.T.Aiton, Hortus Kew . 2nd edn, 5: 464 (1813)

Winged wattle

Much-branched shrub to c. 2 m high. Branchlets often flexuose. Stipules spinose to innocuous. Phyllodes continuous with branches, bifariously decurrent and forming opposite wings with each one extending to the next below, the wings usually 2–20 mm wide, narrowest on inflorescence-bearing region, thinly coriaceous, green, glabrous to pilose or hirsute-hirsutellous, commonly tuberculate-scabridulous on margins; free portion of phyllodes 5–70 mm long, sometimes acuminate, with spinose to innocuous apex, with central nerve obvious; glands prominent, 1–3, normally on a triangular spur. Inflorescences simple and mostly 2 per axil, sometimes in racemes; peduncles 4–12 mm long, glabrous or hirsutellous to shortly pilose; heads globular, 4–15-flowered, white to golden. Flowers 5-merous; sepals c. 2/3-united. Pods stipitate, flat, normally curved, 2–8 cm long, 5–11 mm wide, crustaceous, densely hairy; margins thick. Seeds transverse to oblique, oblong to elliptic, 2.5–4.5 mm long, arillate.

Related to A. willdenowiana .

Occurs from Port Gregory (c. 70 km N of Geraldton) S to Albany, south-western W.A. Four varieties are recognised but future studies may show these may be better treated as separate species.


1 Free portion of phyllodes with 2 or 3 gland-bearing angles, sharply pungent; heads 4–7-flowered

var. biglandulosa

1: Free portion of phyllodes with 1 gland-bearing angle (rarely 2 or 3 in var. tetrantha )

2 Flowers 4 per head; free portion of phyllode 10–70 mm long, innocuous or scarcely pungent

var. tetrantha

2: Flowers more than 4 per head

3 Free portion of phyllode 5–20 mm long, sharply pungent

var. alata

3: Free portion of phyllode 10–70 mm long, acuminate to caudate-acuminate, innocuous or slightly pungent

var. platyptera


Acacia alata R.Br. var. alata

Shrub 0.5–1.5 m high. Stipules spinose or subspinose. Phyllodes on non-flowering region of stems 2–10 mm wide; free portion of phyllodes 5–20 mm long, with apex spinose. Peduncles glabrous or hairy; heads 6–10-flowered, creamy white to lemon yellow, occasionally golden.

Discontinuous, occurring from Perth S to Collie, Cape Naturaliste (c. 30 km WNW of Busselton) SE to Manjimup and Denmark E to Albany, with an outlier at Three Springs (c. 200 km N of Perth), W.A. Grows in a variety of habitats but often along creeks with laterite or loam in forest and woodland in the Darling Ra., and in sand over granite in coastal heath and low woodland near Albany.

Peduncles on specimens from Cape Naturaliste to Albany are hirsutellous to shortly pilose, further north they are normally glabrous. Smallest pods occur on plants from around Albany, i.e. 2–4 cm long and 5–6 mm wide.

Appears to hybridise with A. applanata in a few places in the Darling Ra. near Perth.

Widely cultivated in Europe last century, sometimes as A. scolopendria which is presumed to be a nomen nudum .

Type of accepted name

Observatory Hill, Princess Royal Harbour, Albany, W.A., Dec. 1801, R.Brown ; lecto: BM—upper right hand specimen on sheet no. 4314, fide B.R.Maslin & R.S.Cowan, Nuytsia 10: 112 (1995); isolecto: E; paralecto: BM, E, K.


Mimosa alata (R.Br.) Poir., Encycl. Suppl. 5: 530 (1817), nom. inval . (combination not actually made); Phyllodoce alata (R.Br.) Link, Handbuch 2: 132 (1831); Acacia alata var. genuina Meisn., in J.G.C.Lehmann, Pl. Preiss . 1: 4 (1844), nom. inval. Type: as for accepted name.

Acacia uniglandulosa Seem. & J.A.Schmidt, Flora 27: 495 (1844). Type: cultivated, Hanover botanic garden in 1844, as A. latifrons ; holo: HBG, specimen ex herb. J.A.Schmidt.

? Acacia alata var. glabrata hort. ex Seem., Verh. K.K. Gartenbauges. Wien 1846: 9 (1846). Type: none given; n.v.

Doubtful name

Acacia ficoides Hort. ex Jacques: see Doubtful Names.


H.L.Wendland, Comm. Acac. Aphyll. t. 1 (1820); A.Colla, Hortus Ripul. t. 17 (1824); R.Erickson et al. , Fl. & Pl. W. Australia 2nd edn, 50 (1979); M.Simmons, Acacias Australia 19 (1981), smaller left hand illustration with pods.

Representative collections

W.A.: c. 10 km W of Three Springs, 27 June 1974, C.Chapman (MEL, PERTH); 41.8 km E of Irwin Inlet, near Denmark, 19 Feb. 1913, S.W.Jackson (CANB, K, MEL, PERTH, TLF); 1.6 km due S of Palgarrup, B.R.Maslin 2851 (MEL, PERTH); NE of Yallingup, S.Paust 205 (PERTH); Canning R., L.Preiss 997 (LUND, MO, W).


Acacia alata var. biglandulosa Benth., Fl. Austral . 2: 321 (1864)

Shrub 0.5–1.5 m high. Free portion of phyllodes to 5–20 mm long, with apex spinose; glands 2 or 3, normally shortly stipitate, sometimes becoming spinose. Peduncles usually hirsutellous; heads 4–7-flowered, cream to white; buds pink.

Occurs from Port Gregory S to Mt Michael (c. 35 km SE of Geraldton), W.A. Grows in loam and sand on lateritic and sandstone hills and also in sometimes saline clay, usually in heath.

Peduncles are glabrous on specimens from near Port Gregory (including the type), elsewhere they are hirsutellous.

A variant from about 15 km east of Mingenew differs most obviously from var. biglandulosa in having a preponderance of phyllodes with only a single gland and light golden flower-heads, fide B.R.Maslin, Nuytsia 10: 156 (1995), for details.

Type of accepted name

Port Gregory, W.A., A.Oldfield ; syn: K, sheet stamped ‘Herbarium Hookerianum 1867’. See B.R.Maslin, Nuytsia 10: 155 (1995), for discussion of type.


M.Simmons, Acacias Australia 19 (right hand illustration with inflorescences) & pl. 15 (1981).

Representative collections

W.A.: near Nanson on Howatharra - Nanson road, A.M.Ashby 3804 (CANB, K, PERTH); 12.3 km N of junction of Yerina Springs road with Port Gregory - Northampton road, R.S.Cowan A845 & R.A.Cowan (CANB, K, MEL, NSW, NY, PERTH, US); E of Geraldton, R.J.Cumming 829 (PERTH).


Acacia alata var. platyptera (Lindl.) Meisn., in J.G.C.Lehmann, Pl. Preiss. 1: 4 (1844)

Shrub 0.5–1 m high, forming dense clumps to c. 1 m across. Stipules innocuous. Phyllodes 7–20 mm wide or occasionally 40 mm wide towards base of stems, narrower on inflorescence-bearing region; free portion of phyllodes straight to shallowly recurved, 10–70 mm long, longest at base of stems, acuminate to caudate-acuminate, with innocuous or somewhat spinose and frequently recurved apex; glands 1. Peduncles hirsutellous; heads 12–15-flowered, golden; buds obtuse.

Restricted to near Mogumber (c. 100 km N of Perth), W.A.

A distinctive variant from the Tuttanning Flora Reserve east of Pingelly (c. 200 km SE of Mogumber), which is not included in the above description, probably represents an undescribed taxon. It is similar to var. platyptera but differs in its very narrow (2–8 mm wide), glabrous or minutely hirsutellous phylloclades, shorter phyllodes (the free portions being 1–4 cm long), and glabrous, narrower pods (6–7 mm wide), cf . B.R.Maslin 6759 (PERTH).

The Mingenew variant of var. biglandulosa sometimes has phyllodes resembling those of var. platyptera.

Vegetatively var. platyptera is rather similar to some forms of var. tetrantha ; both varieties occur in regions north of Perth but they are not sympatric. Variety platyptera is readily distinguished from var. tetrantha by its golden, 12–15-flowered heads.

Type of accepted name

Cultivated by Messrs. Lucombe, Pince & Co., Exeter, England, from seed from the Swan R., W.A.; holo: CGE, sheet annotated ‘A. platyptera’ by Lindley but without collection details.


Acacia platyptera Lindl., Edwards’ Bot. Reg. 27: misc. 3 (1841). Type: as for accepted name.


W.J.Hooker, Bot. Mag. 68: t. 3933 (1842), not a good representation of the species.

Representative collection

W.A.: N of Mogumber, C.Chapman 6 (PERTH).


Acacia alata var. tetrantha Maslin, Nuytsia 10: 157 (1995)

Shrub 0.3–0.6 m high, spreading to 1.5 m across. Stipules innocuous. Phyllodes on non-flowering region of stems 3–10 mm wide, occasionally 15 mm wide; free portion of phyllodes straight to recurved, 10–70 mm long, acuminate, with innocuous to scarcely spinose and straight or recurved to strongly uncinate apex; gland-angle often very prominent, normally 1, rarely 2 or 3. Peduncles glabrous or hirsutellous to shortly pilose; heads 4-flowered, white; buds gradually or abruptly narrowed to apiculate or acute points. Pods curved to substraight, 7–11 mm wide.

Disjunct, occurring from Enneabba (c. 130 km N of Lancelin) S to Cervantes (c. 60 km NW of Lancelin), also at Yanchep (c. 130 km S of Cervantes), W.A. Usually grows near watercourses on sand and sandy clay in eucalypt low open forest and woodland, also in Mallee and Paperbark ( Melaleuca sp.) communities. Flowers Apr. - July; in the other varieties flowering commences in June.

Free portion of phyllodes vary from long, narrow, recurved and uncinate (around Yanchep) to short, broad, ±straight and not uncinate (around Eneabba).

The 4-flowered, white heads and acute to subacute flower buds readily distinguish var. tetrantha from the other varieties of A. alata. Vegetatively it is most similar to var. platyptera .

Type of accepted name

Hill River crossing on Jurien - Cervantes road, 22 May 1978, R.J.Cumming 81 ; holo: PERTH.

Representative collections

W.A.: 9 km SSE of Eneabba, R.J.Hnatiuk 770907 (PERTH); Yanchep Natl Park, A.M.James 297 (PERTH); Hill R. crossing, c. 16 km due E of Jurien Bay, B.R.Maslin 2621 (BRI, CANB, PERTH) and 2621A (K, PERTH); Cockleshell Gully, R.Pullen 9684 (CANB n.v ., 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