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Acacia leprosa

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Acacia leprosa Sieber ex DC., Prodr . 2: 450 (1825)

Cinnamon Wattle

Viscid, aromatic shrub 2–4 m high; branches sometimes pendulous. Branchlets terete or angled towards extremities, glabrous or appressed-puberulous on ribs. Phyllodes narrowly elliptic to linear, straight to incurved, 3–12 cm long, 1–15 mm wide, mostly acute to acuminate, thin, resinous-punctate, glabrous or appressed-puberulous on margins and midrib; lateral nerves present or absent, often coalescing distally to form an almost continuous intra-marginal nerve on either side of the prominent midrib; gland 0–8 mm above pulvinus. Inflorescences simple, 2 (- 6) per axil, rarely 2–6-headed racemes with axes 2–3 mm long; peduncles glabrous or puberulous; basal bract mostly caducous; heads globular, usually pale yellow, 20–35-flowered. Flowers 5-merous; sepals united. Pods 4–8 cm long, 3–5 mm wide, thinly coriaceous to firmly chartaceous, glabrous. Seeds longitudinal, oblong-elliptic, 3.5–4 mm wide, shiny, dark brown to blackish.

Scattered in eastern Australia, occurring near Monto, Qld, Mt Tayar, Mt Werong and near Mittagong, N.S.W., and from Orbost E to The Grampians, N to Buxton, Vic.

As noted under A. verniciflua the conventional separation of A. leprosa (phyllodes 1-nerved per face) from its close relative, A. verniciflua (phyllodes 2-nerved per face), is maintained here. While this distinction may be at least partly artificial, it is a pragmatic way of categorising the perplexing range of variation, thus providing a basis for future studies. Specimens from the Mt Werong area, N.S.W., are especially difficult to place with certainty because of variation in phyllode nerve number.

Typical A. leprosa appears to be uncommon with an unusually scattered distribution in eastern Australia. In part this may be due to an inadequacy of collections but it may also reflect the need to better understand the taxonomic relationships between this entity and the other variants which are recognised.

Besides A. verniciflua , A. leprosa is most likely to be confused with A. ausfeldii , A. dodonaeifolia or A. cognata . It is also related to A. stricta .

Four variants are recognized within this species as defined here.


1 Phyllodes mostly 7–15 mm wide and 6–12 cm long; gland 2–8 mm above pulvinus

Variant 4

1: Phyllodes narrower and/or shorter than above; gland 0–2 mm above pulvinus

2 Peduncles and branchlets glabrous; phyllodes 3–5 cm long, moderately to strongly incurved

Variant 3

2: Peduncles appressed-puberulous; branchlets glabrous or minutely appressed-puberulous on ribs; phyllodes 5–10 cm long, straight to shallowly incurved

3 Bracteoles shortly acuminate; lateral veins of phyllodes very indistinct or absent

Variant 2

3: Bracteoles not acuminate; lateral veins of phyllodes fine, coalescing distally

Variant 1


Variant 1: Acacia leprosa Sieber ex DC. (typical variant)

The first variant, typical A. leprosa , is illustrated in T.Tame, Acacias SE Australia 109, fig. 107a & b, pl. 107 (1992). Specimens of this variant have branchlets that are angled at extremities by minutely appressed-puberulous ribs. Phyllodes narrowly elliptic to linear-elliptic, straight to shallowly incurved, 5–8 cm long, 4–8 mm wide, appressed-puberulous on midrib and often margins; lateral nerves distally coalescing to form a fine, continuous, intra-marginal nerve on either side of the prominent midrib; gland 0–1.5 mm above the pulvinus. Peduncles 2 per axil, densely appressed-puberulous. Bracteoles not acuminate. Pods and seeds not seen. Scattered in eastern Australia from N of Monto Qld, near Mittagong and Mt Werong, N.S.W., Warri Yallock, Marysville and Orbost, Vic. (Qld: 8.2 km by road, NE of Doolool Tops HS, via Monto, A.R.Bean 928 (BRI n.v ., NSW n.v ., MEL, MEXU n.v .). N.S.W.: 1.3 km S of Mt Werong, Oct. 1965, B.G.Briggs (NSW); 1.6 km S of Chain of Ponds Ck crossing, c. 3.4 km SE of Aylmerton Railway Stn, A.L.Mitchell 556 (CANB n.v ., K n.v ., MEL n.v ., NSW, P n.v .). Vic.: Orbost, Sept. 1900, E.E.Pescott (MEL)).

Variant 2: Acacia leprosa Sieber ex DC. (Dandenong variant)

The second variant is the Dandenong variant. It is illustrated in L.F.Costermans, Native Trees & Shrubs SE Australia 311, fig. a (1981) and T.Tame, Acacias SE Australia 109, figs 107f–h (1992). Specimens of this variant have branchlets that are glabrous or sometimes sparsely appressed-puberulous on the fine ribs. Phyllodes linear to narrowly elliptic or lanceolar-elliptic, mostly shallowly incurved, 5–10 cm long, 2–6 mm wide, glabrous or sometimes appressed-puberulous on midrib and margins; midrib prominent; lateral nerves indistinct or absent; gland basal. Peduncles 2 per axil, loosely appressed- or appressed-puberulous; bracteoles shortly acuminate, often slightly exserted beyond flowers in young buds. This variant is common in Vic. in Dandenong Ra. and western foothills from Ringwood to Woori Yallock and S to Dandeonong township, also occurrences at Myrniong Ck. A specimen from The Grampians is possibly also this variant (e.g. A.C.Beauglehole 30149 , MEL) (representative collections are Vic.: Dandenong Ra., Belgrave- Gembrook road due NE of Belgrave township just N of Black Hill Rd, B.R.Maslin 5868 (CANB, K, MEL, NSW, NY, PERTH); Myrniong Ck, Sept. 1899, C.Walter (NSW)).

This is probably the taxon to which F.Mueller intended the name A. reclinata should apply (see Doubtful Names ). It is sometimes confused with A. cognata which is distinguished especially by its phyllodes with 3 nerves (rarely 5 nerves) per face; although because the nerves flanking the rather prominent midrib are often very fine, phyllodes need to be inspected carefully. Putative hybrids between this variant and A. paradoxa are recorded (under the names A. leprosa   x A. armata ) by A.B.Court, in J.H.Willis, Handb. Pl. Victoria 2: 216 (1973), from the foothills of the Dandenongs (e.g. B.R.Maslin 5865 , K, MEL, PERTH). Also, in the same general area it seems also to hybridise with A. howittii (e.g. Ringwood, B.R.Maslin 5862 , MEL, PERTH).

Variant 3: Acacia leprosa Sieber ex DC. (Seymour variant)

The third variant correspondences to the type of A. leprosa var. tenuifolia . Specimens of this variant have branchlets that are terete and glabrous. Phyllodes linear, moderately to strongly incurved, 3–5 cm long, 1–3 mm wide, glabrous; midrib not prominent; lateral nerves mostly absent; gland basal. Peduncles mostly 2 or 3 per axil, glabrous; bracteoles acute. Seeds not seen. This appears to be a rare taxon, restricted to the vicinity of Seymour on the Goulburn R., Vic. (Vic.: Goulburn R., near Seymour, 5 Nov. 1902, F.M.Reader (MEL)). This variant is closely related to the second variant. Mature flowers have not been seen.

Variant 4: Acacia leprosa Sieber ex DC. (large phyllode variant)

The fourth variant has large phyllodes. It is illustrated in L.F.Costermans, Native Trees & Shrubs SE Australia 311, fig. b (1981) and T.Tame, Acacias SE Australia 109, fig. 107c- e (1992). Specimens have branchlets that are often angled at the extremities, appressed-puberulous on ribs or glabrous. Phyllodes narrowly elliptic, mostly 6–12 cm long and 7–15 mm wide; lateral nerves fine but obvious and often distally coalescing to form a continuous intra-marginal nerve on either side of the prominent midrib; gland rather prominent, 1–2 mm long, 2–8 mm above pulvinus. Peduncles 2–6 per axil, sometimes in racemes, densely puberulous with appressed or spreading hairs. Scattered in Vic., from near Trentham E to Buxton and Orbost, with a single occurrence at Mt Tayar, N.S.W. (N.S.W.: Mt Tayar, 37 km SE of Rylstone, E.F.Constable 5059 (NSW, PERTH). Vic.: 4 km NE of Healsville on the Maroondah Hwy to Alexandra, B.R.Maslin 5941 (CANB, K, MEL, PERTH)). This variant is similar to A. verniciflua (graveolens variant) in branchlet ribbing and phyllode shape and size. Recently a red-flowered variant of this taxon was discovered near Melbourne; it occurred as a single plant in a population of normal yellow-coloured individuals and it appears that this variant no longer exists in the wild.

Type of accepted name

Fl. Novae Holl. [N.S.W.], F.W.Sieber 455 ; holo: G-DC; iso: A, K, MEL, MO, NSW, NY, Z.


Acacia reclinata F.Muell., First Gen. Rep. Govt. Bot . 12 (1853), nom. nud. ; J. Proc. Linn. Soc., Bot . 3: 131 (1859), pro syn. sub A. leprosa .

Acacia leprosa var. tenuifolia Benth., Fl. Austral . 2: 358 (1864). Type: between the Goulbourne [Goulburn] and Broken Rivers, Vic., F.Mueller s.n. ; probable holo: MEL1528780; ?iso: K, MEL1529063 (specimens annotated by F.Mueller as ‘Trans. fl. Goulbourne’).

Acacia leprosa var. elongata Guilf., Austral. Pl . 34, 403, pl. (1911), nom. inval . (description not diagnostic).


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