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Acacia maitlandii

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Acacia maitlandii F.Muell. (as ‘Maitlandi’), Fragm . 3: 46 (1862)

Maitland’s Wattle , Spiky Wattle

Open shrub 1–3 m high. Branchlets red to brown, lenticellular, glabrous, resinous-viscid, scarred where phyllodes have fallen. Stipules 0.5–1.5 mm long, erect, often enveloped in resin. Phyllodes patent to inclined, variable, usually narrowly elliptic to narrowly oblong-elliptic or oblong-oblanceolate, usually 7–25 mm long and 1.5–4 mm wide with l:w = 3–10, pungent with a slender cusp, rigid, usually green, glabrous; midrib prominent; lateral nerves obscure or absent; pulvinus 0.5 mm long, yellow. Inflorescences simple, 1 per axil; peduncles usually 1–2 cm long, glabrous; heads globular, densely 50–90-flowered, golden. Flowers mostly 5-merous; sepals free, linear-spathulate. Pods rounded over and slightly constricted between seeds, 2–7.5 cm long, 3–5 mm wide, firmly chartaceous, glabrous, somewhat viscid when young. Seeds longitudinal, elliptic to ovate, 3.5–4.5 mm long, dark brown, slightly mottled, cream on periphery and bordering pleurogram, exarillate.

Widespread in the arid zone from Dampier and Mt Augustus, W.A., to the western margin of the Simpson Desert, N.T., and Serpentine Lakes area, S.A.; further E it occurs from near Windorah and Jericho, Qld, S to near Enngonia, N.S.W. Grows in red sand on plains or dunes, or sometimes on rocky slopes, often in Mulga scrub, spinifex country or eucalypt open woodland.

Precise affinities of this species are unknown but its exarillate seeds and pungent phyllodes suggest affinities with the ‘ A. pyrifolia group’ and ‘ A. murrayana group’. It superficially resembles A. siculiformis .

The species is rather variable in phyllode shape and size, and two variants from the desert regions of W.A. are recognised; future studies may show these as warranting formal rank.

The first variant has phyllodes that are acicular, quadrangular-terete to flat, normally 10–25 mm long and 0.5–1 mm wide with l:w = 30, milky pale green to subglaucous. It is a spindly open shrub, and occurs in the Little Sandy Desert and Warburton-Rawlinson Ra. areas (e.g. Gibson Desert, B.R.Maslin 5661 , CANB, K, PERTH). This variant appears to grade into the typical form in places. Its phyllodes may resemble those of A. tetragonophylla but are distinguished by being 4-nerved and not (or rarely a few) fasciculate, furthermore, this variant has viscid branchlets and very different pods and seeds. Phyllodes resemble A. brownii .

The second variant has phyllodes that are oblong to widely ovate or triangular, normally 3–4 mm long and 1.5–2.5 mm wide with l:w = 1–2. The peduncles are 6–7 mm long. This is an uncommon variant occurring in the Gibson and Little Sandy Deserts (e.g. Little Sandy Desert, A.S.Mitchell 1017 , PERTH). Phyllode shape and size may resemble some forms of A. pravifolia .

Aboriginal use of A. maitlandii in central Australia is provided by P.Latz, Bushfires & Bushtucker 107 (1995).

Type of accepted name

Hamersley (sphalm. ‘Hammersley’) Ra., W.A., M.Brown s.n. ; holo: MEL.


Racosperma maitlandii (F.Muell.) Pedley, Bot . J. Linn. Soc. 92: 248 (1986). Type: as for accepted name.

Acacia patens F.Muell. ex Benth., Fl. Austral . 2: 329 (1864); J. Proc. Linn. Soc., Bot . 3: 120 (1859), pro syn. sub A. siculiformis A.Cunn. ex Benth. Type: Sturt Ck, W.A./N.T., F.Mueller 4 ; syn: K, MEL, PERTH (Fragment ex MEL); Upper Victoria R., N.T., F.Mueller s.n .; syn: K.


F. von Mueller, Iconogr. Austral. Acacia dec. 2 (1887), as A. patens ; G.M.Cunningham et al ., Pl. W. New South Wales 366 (1981); B.R.Maslin, in J.P.Jessop (ed.), Fl. Central Australia 119, fig. 158A (1981); M.Simmons, Acacias Australia 2: 57 (1988); T.Tame, Acacias SE Australia 104, fig. 100, pl. 100 (1992); D.J.E.Whibley & D.E.Symon, Acacias S. Australia 2nd edn, 105 (1992).

Representative collections

W.A.: Upper Rudall R. area, B.R.Maslin 2118 (CANB, MEL, PERTH). N.T.: 29 km SE of Aileron township, M.Lazarides 5771 (K, MO, NSW, PERTH). S.A.: c. 4 km N of Mt Lindsay, P.J.Wilson 2499 (AD). Qld: 11 km from Charleville towards Cunnamulla, I.B.Armitage 917 (PERTH). N.S.W.: Burrawantie Stn, W.E.Mulham 1079 (NSW).


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