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Acacia sclerophylla

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Acacia sclerophylla Lindl., in T.L.Mitchell, Three Exped. Australia 2: 139 (1838)

Hard-leaf Wattle

Dense, rounded or flat-topped shrub 0.5–2 m high, often wider than high. Branchlets glabrous to hairy. New shoots often resinous. Stipules subpersistent to caducous. Phyllodes ascending to erect, linear to linear-oblanceolate or oblong-oblanceolate, straight to shallowly incurved, rarely terete to subterete, (1–) 2–4.5 (–6) cm long, 1–4 (–5) mm wide, thick, coriaceous, glabrous or hairy, 8- or more-nerved in all, 3- or more-nerved per face when flat, the nerves impressed or raised, anastomoses absent. Inflorescences simple, mostly 2 per axil; peduncles 2–5 mm long, glabrous or hairy; basal bract caducous or subpersistent, cucullate; heads globular, 3–4 mm diam., 12–20-flowered, light golden. Flowers 5-merous; sepals free. Pods linear, curved to openly and somewhat irregularly coiled or twisted, to 6 cm long, 2–3 mm wide, glabrous or hairy. Seeds longitudinal, oblong to oblong-ovate; aril apical.

Principally an eastern Australian species, occurring most commonly in south-eastern S.A., north-western Vic. and south-western N.S.W. Also found in a small area in south-western W.A.

Related to Acacia pelophila , but differs in generally shorter phyllodes and few-flowered globular heads.

It occurs as three varieties.


1 Branchlet apices, new shoots and phyllodes (at least when young) short-pilose to pubescent with relatively long, weak, spreading or appressed hairs

var. pilosa

1: Branchlet apices, new shoots and phyllodes glabrous or sparsely uncinate-puberulous (hairs very short, appressed and abruptly curved upwards from the base)

2 Phyllodes 1–1.5 mm wide, linear; branchlets sparsely uncinate-puberulous (sometimes almost glabrous) (W.A.)

var. teretiuscula

2: Phyllodes (1.5- ) 2–4 (–5) mm wide, linear-oblanceolate to narrowly oblong-oblanceolate, rarely linear; branchlets glabrous (rarely very sparsely uncinate-puberulous) (W.A., S.A., N.S.W., Vic.)

var. sclerophylla


Acacia sclerophylla Lindl. var. sclerophylla

Branchlets glabrous or occasionally very sparsely uncinate-puberulous as on var. teretiuscula . New shoots glabrous and resinous. Phyllodes linear-oblanceolate to narrowly oblong-oblanceolate and flat, rarely linear and compressed (in S.A. variant), (10–) 20–45 mm long, 2–4 (–5) mm wide, 1 mm wide in S.A. variant, glabrous, with 5–7 (–10) longitudinal nerves. Peduncles glabrous. Pods curved to twisted, glabrous.

Restricted to a few localities in south-western W.A.; common in S.A. from Streaky Bay, Eyre Penin. eastwards; uncommon in north-western Vic. and south-western N.S.W. Grows principally in mallee eucalypt scrub or woodland in a wide variety of soils, mostly sandy ones, except in loam in W.A.

The number of phyllode nerves varies from 5 to 7 per face but sometimes 3 are more prominent than the rest.

Typically this variety has flat, linear-oblanceolate, phyllodes 2–4 cm long and 2–4 mm wide. However, in S.A. two unusual variants occur: one from the Murray region with linear phyllodes 4–6 cm long (e.g. W.R.Barker 4393 , AD, PERTH), the other from the Eyre Penin. with subterete phyllodes c. 1 mm wide (e.g. B.Copley 2965 , AD, PERTH).

Sometimes confused with A. wilhelmiana which is readily distinguished by its peduncles which are densely yellow hairy and normally on very reduced racemes.

Type of accepted name

Interior of New Holland [along the Murray R. near junction with Loddon R. at Swan Hill, Vic.], 20 June 1836, T.Mitchell ‘182’ ; holo: CGE; iso: K (left-hand specimen), MEL, PERTH (Fragment ex K).

Doubtful name

Acacia sclerophylla var. longifolia : see Doubtful Names.


L.F.Costermans, Native Trees & Shrubs SE Australia 324 (1981); G.M.Cunningham et al , Pl. W New South Wales 372 (1981); T.Tame, Acacias SE Australia 86, fig. 74, pl. 74 (1992); D.J.E.Whibley & D.E.Symon, Acacias S. Australia 2nd edn, 205 (1992).

Representative collections

W.A.: 10 km S of Tammin on road to Gardner Reserve, B.R.Maslin 6301 (CANB, K, MEL, PERTH). S.A.: 57.2 km from junction of Flinders Hwy and Poochera road near Streaky Bay, N.Hall H80/70 (NSW, PERTH); c. 24 km due E of Kadina, B.R.Maslin 4526 (PERTH). N.S.W.: near Gol Gol, 16 Sept. 1963, G.White (NSW).Vic.: Big Desert, 8 km S of Murrayville on Nhill road, M.G.Corrick 6388 (MEL, PERTH).


Acacia sclerophylla var. pilosa R.S.Cowan & Maslin, Nuytsia 12: 440 (1999)

Branchlets short-pilose to pubescent at extremities, often soon becoming glabrous. New shoots short-pilose, the hairs moderately dense and spreading. Stipules linear-triangular, 0.5–1 mm long. Phyllodes linear to linear-oblanceolate, (10–) 15–28 (–35) mm long, 1–2 mm wide, flat, hairy when young (indumentum similar to branchlets except hairs sometimes shorter), glabrous with age, with 3–5 longitudinal nerves. Old pod valves coiled, sparsely hairy.

A poorly collected taxon known only from the type locality (Dumbleyung) and in the Doodlakine – Kununoppin area in south-western W.A. Appears to grow on salt flats and in mallee communities.

Variety pilosa differs from the other elements of A. sclerophylla principally by its densely hairy branchlets and (at least when young) phyllodes.  Narrow phyllode individuals of A. caesariata can easily be confused with this variety and the relationship between these two poorly collected taxa requires further study. Some elements of A. caesariata were included in the original description of var. pilosa , namely, R.S.Cowan A742 & B.R.Maslin and N.Perry 518.

Type of accepted name

Reserve 24282, Dumbleyung, W.A., 25 Oct. 1977, J.S.Beard 8181 ; holo: PERTH.

Representative collections

W.A.: ‘Ryans Property’, Doodlakine- Kununoppin road, 26 Aug. 1987, L.Atkins s.n . (CANB, K, MEL, NY, PERTH) and 14 Oct. 1987 (PERTH).


Acacia sclerophylla var. teretiuscula Maiden & Blakely, J. & Proc. Roy. Soc. W. Australia 13: 22 (1928)

Branchlets uncinate-puberulous (hairs very short, appressed to subappressed, abruptly curved upwards from base), sometimes almost glabrous. New shoots glabrous or very sparsely hairy, resinous. Stipules triangular, c. 0.5 mm long. Phyllodes linear, flat to terete, 20–45 mm long, 1–1.5 mm wide, glabrous or very sparsely uncinate-puberulous as on branchlets, with 3 (–5) whitish longitudinal nerves. Pods glabrous or sparsely appressed hairy.

A poorly collected variety known only from a few localities between Bruce Rock and Lake Grace in south-western W.A. Grows in well-drained, light grey sand or brown clay loam in open shrub mallee woodland.

Type of accepted name

Bruce Rock, Merredin district, W.A., Aug. 1917, F.Stoward 171 ; holo: NSW; iso: K, PERTH.

Representative collections

W.A.: between Bruce Rock and Lake Grace [precise locality withheld for conservation reasons], R.S.Cowan A751 & B.R.Maslin (BM, BRI, CANB, K, MEL, NSW, PERTH); K.Newbey 1359 (CANB, K, MEL, MO, 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