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Acacia sphacelata

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Acacia sphacelata Benth., London J. Bot . 1: 338 (1842)

Harsh shrub 0.2–1.5 m high. Bark light grey to mid-grey. Branchlets rigid, glabrous or minutely hairy. Stipules persistent or caducous, 1–2 mm long. Phyllodes sessile, scattered, verticillate or subverticillate, patent, linear or linear-lanceolate, straight to shallowly curved, terete, quadrangular or flat, 6–25 mm long, 0.6–2 mm wide, pungent, rigid, green, smooth, glabrous or nerves sparsely puberulous, 5-nerved but the 2 adaxial nerves coalescing at the obscure gland, 1-nerved per face when flat. Inflorescences simple, mostly 1 per axil; peduncles 3–13 mm long, glabrous; heads showy, globular, 13–50-flowered, bright golden. Flowers 5-merous; sepals free, spathulate, dark brown at apex. Pods narrowly oblong to linear, to 4 cm long, 2.5–7 mm wide, firmly chartaceous to somewhat crustaceous, glabrous. Seeds longitudinal, 2.5–5 mm long, dark brown to black, arillate.

Common from near Port Gregory (Port Gregory is c. 55 km S of Kalbarri) S to near The Stirling Ra. and E to near Scaddan (Scaddan is c. 50 km NNW of Esperance), south-western W.A.

Three subspecies are recognised; intermediates occur between subsp. sphacelata and subsp. verticillata.


1 Phyllodes all or mostly in regular or irregular whorls

subsp. verticillata

1: Phyllodes scattered (rarely 2 or 3 together at a few nodes)

2 Phyllodes mostly straight, terete to quadrangular; gland situated near or above middle of phyllode

subsp. sphacelata

2: Phyllodes mostly shallowly recurved and flat, linear-lanceolate; gland situated near base of phyllode

subsp. recurva


Acacia sphacelata Benth. subsp. sphacelata

Shrub to 1.5 m high. Branchlets glabrous or apices hirsutellous to antrorsely puberulous. Stipules normally caducous. Phyllodes scattered, rarely a few clustered or subverticillate (2 or 3 per node), mostly straight, terete to quadrangular, 6–25 mm long, 0.6–1.3 mm wide, normally glabrous; gland near or above middle of phyllode, 3–8 mm above base. Peduncles 5–10 mm long, rarely 3–4 mm; heads 22–50-flowered. Pods 3–5 mm wide. Seeds 2.5–4 mm long.

Common from near Port Gregory (Port Gregory is c. 55 km S of Kalbarri) S to Ongerup; also from the Southern Cross district, Ravensthorpe and near Peak Charles (Peak Charles is c. 95 km SW of Norseman), W.A. Grows in sand or laterite, commonly in heath, shrubland or Mallee woodland. In the Darling Ra., E of Perth, it sometimes occurs in loam on granite outcrops.

Phyllodes commonly superficially resemble those of A. quadrisulcata .

Type of accepted name

Swan R., W.A., J.Drummond s.n. ; holo: K; iso: G.


Acacia tamminensis E.Pritz., Bot. Jahrb. Syst . 35: 290 (1904). Type: near Tammin, W.A., 21 May 1901, L.Diels 2879 ; holo: probably destroyed during 1939- 1945 war; iso: PERTH (Fragment ex B).

[ Acacia striatula auct. non Benth.; in sched., as to E.Pritzel 375 (B, BM, E, G, K, L, M, NSW, US, Z)].

Representative collections

W.A.: Nanson, A.M.Ashby 4510 (AD, PERTH); 23.5 km SSE of Peak Charles, M.A.Burgman & S.McNee 1481 (PERTH); Swan R., J.Drummond 299 (K, OXF, P, PERTH); 21 km E of Karalee on the Great Eastern Hwy, B.R.Maslin 1853 (AD, PERTH); 38 km E of Lesmurdie, B.R.Maslin 6189 (PERTH).


Acacia sphacelata subsp. recurva Maslin, Nuytsia 12: 401 (1999)

Distinguished from subsp. sphacelata in the following ways. Phyllodes linear-lanceolate, mostly shallowly recurved, some straight, flat and thickish but drying quadrangular when very narrow, 10–18 mm long, 1–2 mm wide, with adaxial margin normally shallowly convex; gland on lower half of the phyllode 2–5 mm above base. Peduncles 3–5 mm long; heads 13–23-flowered.

Occurs from near the Stirling Ra. E to near Scaddan (Scaddan is c. 50 km NNW of Esperance) and N to near Hyden. Grows in sand, sandy loam or clayey loam, in open shrub Mallee or Eucalyptus woodland over heath.

Although both subsp. recurva and subsp. sphacelata occur around Ongerup they are seemingly not sympatric. Individuals with broad phyllodes resemble A. siculiformis but are distinguished by their non-lenticular branchlets, 5-nerved phyllodes and arillate seeds.

Type of accepted name

5 miles [8 km] N of Chillinup Pool, W.A., 19 July 1971, K.Newbey 3398 ; holo: PERTH; iso: K.

Representative collections

W.A.: c. 46 km due SE of Hyden, B.R.Maslin 6368 (PERTH, Z); 56.3 km on Chester Pass Rd, K.Newbey s.n . (PERTH00918709); Scaddan, P.van der Moezel 372 (CANB, K, MEL, PERTH).


Acacia sphacelata subsp. verticillata Maslin, Nuytsia 12: 402 (1999)

Distinguished from subsp. sphacelata in the following ways. Shrub to 0.5 m high. Branchlets hirsutellous to puberulous, infrequently subglabrous. Stipules normally persistent. Phyllodes in regular or sometimes irregular whorls, a few solitary or clustered (2 or 3 per node), 8–19 mm long, rarely 4–6 mm, 0.8–1.8 mm wide, glabrous or nerves antrorsely puberulous. Peduncles 6–13 mm long; heads 22–32-flowered. Pods 5–7 mm wide. Seeds 4.5–5 mm long.

Common in the Mt Lesueur (c. 105 km SSE of Dongara) to Moore R. area (the Moore R. occurs to the E of Lancelin). Grows in sand or lateritic sand, in heath or shrubland.

Type of accepted name

1.5 km N of Mt Lesueur, NE of Jurien, W.A., 20 July 1979, E.A.Griffin 1965 ; holo: PERTH; iso: PERTH.

Representative collections

W.A.: Horse Breeding Reserve 15018, W of Mt Lesueur, R.Hnatiuk 770053 (PERTH); 5 km N of Cataby Roadhouse on Brand Hwy, B.R.Maslin 5481 (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