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Acacia terminalis

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Acacia terminalis (Salisb.) J.F.Macbr., Contr. Gray Herb. n. ser. 3 (59): 7 (1919

Sunshine Wattle

Variable, slender or spreading shrub or occasionally small tree to 6 m high. Bark smooth, grey or brown. Branchlets angled, brown, reddish brown or blackish, often pruinose, glabrous to densely pubescent, with low longitudinal ridges. Young foliage-tips reddish or greenish brown, resinous. Leaves: petiole 0.7–4.3 cm long, glabrous to densely pubescent, with a small or prominent gland just below to 1/2 way down from basal pair of pinnae; rachis 0.7–9.5 (–11) cm long, sometimes absent, glabrous to densely pubescent, eglandulose or with a gland at base of terminal pair of pinnae; pinnae 1–8 pairs, 1.3–9 cm long; pinnules prominently discolorous, dark green and shiny above, paler and dull below, 5–21 pairs, mostly not overlapping or touching, mostly oblong to narrowly oblong, elliptic to narrowly elliptic or narrowly ovate to lanceolate, 1.9–18 mm long, 0.9–5.7 mm wide, flat, glabrous or ciliate, midvein prominent, apex mostly acute to acuminate. Inflorescences in axillary or terminal racemes or false-panicles; heads 5–14-flowered, cream-coloured, pale yellow or golden yellow; peduncles 2–20 mm long, stout or slender, glabous to densely pubescent/puberulous, the hairs white or pale yellow. Pods straight or curved, flat, slightly raised and often darker and rough over seeds, 3.5–10 cm long, 12–19 mm wide, coriaceous, purplish, blackish or reddish brown, with minor transverse veins, glabrous; margins paler, prominent. Seeds longitudinal to oblique, obloid to ellipsoid, (3– ) 3.8–6.5 (–7) mm long, (2.5–) 3–4.4 mm wide, +/- glossy, black, funicle cream-coloured to fawn, filiform, expanded into a basal cap-like aril, prolonged up one side of the seed.

Occurs from northern N.S.W. to central Vic. and Tas., common and widespread on coast to tablelands. Grows in heath, woodland and forest, in a range of soil types and topography, often in sandy soils on sandstone.

Allied to A. alaticaulis and A. kulnurensis .

Four subspecies will be formally recognised in the forthcoming Tindale & Kodela revision of A. terminalis ; intergrades occur between some of the subspecies, especially in the Sydney Basin.


1 Branchlets glabrous or with sparse hairs. Petiole and rachis usually glabrous. Flower-heads cream-coloured to dark yellow.

2 Flower-heads pale yellow or cream-coloured to almost white, 5–13-flowered, 5–12 mm diam. Petiolar gland 2–12 mm long. Shrub to small tree to 6 m high

subsp. angustifolia

2: Flower-heads dark yellow to golden or sometimes pale yellow, 5–7-flowered or occasionally up to 11-flowered, 4–10 mm diam. Petiolar gland 1.5–6.7 mm long. Shrub to 2 or rarely 3 m high

subsp. aurea

1: Branchlets sparsely to densely hairy, occasionally glabrous. Petiole and rachis usually hairy. Flower-heads pale yellow or cream-coloured to almost white.

3 Peduncles 0.7–1.5 cm long, 0.5–1 mm diam. Heads 7–14-flowered; calyx 0.8–1.4 mm long. Main axis of panicle or raceme to 16.5 cm long. Flowering axes without glanduliferous axillary shoots. Rare.

subsp. terminalis

3: Peduncles 0.5–2.1 cm long, 0.3–0.5 mm diam. Heads 5–9-flowered. Calyx 0.6–0.9 mm long. Main axis of panicle or raceme to 33 cm long. Flowering axes occasionally with glanduliferous axillary shoots

subsp. longiaxialis


Acacia terminalis (Salisb.) J.F.Macbr. subsp. terminalis

Erect, often spindly or spreading shrub to c. 2 m high. Branchlets angled, with longitudinal ridges 0.1–0.3 mm high, glabrous to densely pubescent/puberulous with erect to spreading, white hairs to 0.3 mm long. Petiole (0.3–) 0.5–2.1 cm long, very sparsely to densely pubescent, gland 1.2–3.5 x 0.8–1.5 mm; rhachis 1–5 (–6) cm long, sparsely to densely appressed- to spreading-hairy; pinnae (1–) 2–5 (–8) pairs, (1.5–) 2–4.5 (–6) cm long; pinnules (5–) 9–14 pairs, (3–) 5–11.5 mm long, (1.3–) 2–4 (–6) mm wide. Inforescences axillary racemes or panicles, the raceme or main panicle axes to 16.5 cm long; heads 7–11 (–14)-flowered, 7–11 mm diam., pale yellow; peduncles 7–15 mm long, (0.5–) 0.7–1 mm diam., usually densely pubescent/puberulous. Calyx 0.8–1.4 mm long. Pods (3.5–) 6–10 cm long, (12–) 14–19 mm wide.

A rare subspecies occurring in N.S.W., mainly in near-coastal areas from the northern shores of Sydney Harbour S to Botany Bay, with most records from the Port Jackson area and the eastern suburbs of Sydney. Scattered or locally common in scrub and open eucalypt woodland or forest, usually in sandy soil on creek banks, hillslopes or in shallow soil in rock crevices and sandstone platforms on cliffs. Flowers March to July.

The distinguishing features of this subspecies include the following characteristics: Branchlets, leaf rhachises and the relatively thick peduncles often densely puberulous/pubescent, the short, spreading hairs white or pale yellow. Petiolar gland small.

Type of accepted name

Port Jackson, D.Burton; holo: ?BM fide M.D.Tindale, Telopea 1: 81 (1975).


Mimosa terminalis Salisb., Prodr. Stirp. Chap. Allerton 325 (1796). Type: as for accepted name.

A. botrycephala (Vent.) Desf., Tabl. Ecole. Bot. 3rd edn, 300 (1829); M. botrycephala Vent., Descr. Pl. Nouv . 1, t. 1 (1800). Type: cultivated "Arbisseau origniaire de la Nouvelle Hollande, dcouvert par les Anglais c Botany-Bay, introduit cehz Cels en 1792 ..."; holo: not found.

A. discolor (Andrews) Willd., Sp. Pl. 4 edn, 4: 1068 (1806); M. discolor Andrews, Bot. Repos . 4: t. 235 (1802), nom. illeg . Type: Port Jackson, N.S.W., Sieber 454 , and others; n.v.

A. discolor var. glabra Benth.; A. discolor var. maritima (Benth.) Hook.f.; A. maritima Benth., London J. Bot . 1: 384 (1842). Type: near the Sea Coast, V.Diemen’s Land, Gunn , n. 373 , Cunningham ; n.v.

Representative collections

N.S.W.: Rose Bay, Helms NSW 60155 , 14 Apr 1900 (AD, B, BM, BRI, CBG, HO, K, MEL, MO, NSW, PERTH, UNSW, US, Z); Cooper Park, Bellevue Hill, Coveny 4823 , 11 Mar 1973 (BRI, CANB, K, MEL, MO, NE, NSW, PERTH, UNSW, US, Z); South Coogee, M.D.Tindale NSW 53046 , 16 Jan 1961 (NSW); Chifley, P.Kodela 276 (CANB, K, MEL, MO, NSW, UNSW); La Perouse, Froggatt NSW 266345 , 15 Mar 1895 (CANB, NSW).


Acacia terminalis subsp. angustifolia Tindale & Kodela (ms)

Tall, erect (often spindly) shrub or small tree to 6 m high. Branchlets angled, with longitudinal ridges 0.2–0.7 mm high (and/or narrow wings to 1.4 mm high) sometimes a brighter red than rest of stem brown, glabrous. Pulvinus 3–6.5 mm long, glabrous, transversely wrinkled; petiole 1.7–4.3 cm long, glabrous, gland (2–) 3–7.5 (–12) mm x 0.8–2.5 mm; rhachis (0.6–) 2.2–7.5 (–9.5) cm long, rarely absent, glabrous; pinnae (1–) 3–6 pairs, (1.8–) 3–9 cm long; pinnules (8–) 10–18 (–21) pairs, (3–) 5–14 (–18) mm long, 1.1–5.2 mm wide, the midnerve prominent and often with a shorter basiscopic nerve not reaching the margin. Inflorescences racemes or panicles, the raceme or main panicle axes to 19.5 cm long, sometimes axillary shoots (4–19 mm long) arising immediately below some peduncles and bearing towards their apices a elliptical or cultrate gland (1.5–6.2 x 0.8–1 mm); heads (5–) 7–13-flowered, (5–) 8–12 mm in diam., pale yellow or pale cream to almost white; peduncles 4–12 mm long. Calyx (0.4–) 0.7–1 mm long. Pods (3–) 7–12 cm long, 7–14 mm wide.

Occurs in N.S.W. (Central Tablelands southwards), Vic. (Gippsland) and Tas. Grows on sandstone or sometimes on granite, in gravelly clay, red clay or sandy soil, on steep hillsides or on ridges, in dry sclerophyll forest or woodland or more rarely in open wet sclerophyll forest. Flowers Feb. to June and Aug. to Sept.

The distinguishing features of this subspecies include the following characteristics: Tall shrub to small tree; branchlets and leaves glabrous; pulvinus distinguishable; petiole 1.7–4.3 cm long, bearing a conspicuous gland; pinnules flat, with distinct midnerve and often less distinct basiscopic nerve; inflorescence axes with axillary shoots with a gland near their apex; flower-heads pale yellow or pale cream-coloured.

Representative collections

N.S.W.: Norah Head, E of Wyong, E.C.Constable NSW 11510, 20 Aug 1949 (NSW); Pigeon House Rd, near turnoff on Princes Highway, S of Burrill Lake, M.Hancock 140 (BRI, CANB, MEL, NSW, UNSW); Springwood, E.C.Constable , 28 Feb 1949 (NSW); 3 miles [4.8 km] WNW of Major's Creek, Tallaganda Shire, Adams 1840 (CANB, K, L, NSW, US); Conway's Gap on the Wadbilliga Fire Trail, 8 km NE of Tuross River Crossing (30 km ESE of Cooma), R.Coveny 6222, P.Hind & M.Hancock (NSW). Vic.: 17 km from Buchan on road to Orbost, I.V.Newman 821 (NSW); East Gippsland, Croajingalong Natl Park, J.H.Ross 3493 (AD, BRI, CANB, HO, MEL, NSW, RSA, S). Tas.: Lower E slopes of Mt William, B.J.Conn 2905 & J.A.Scott (HO, MEL, NSW).


Acacia terminalis subsp. aurea Tindale & Kodela (ms)

Spreading, erect or straggling shrub to 2 m (rarely 3 m) high. Branchlets angled, with longitudinal ridges 0.1–0.5 mm high, glabrous, often glaucous. Petiole (0.7–) 1–2.5 (–3.5) cm long, glabrous, gland conspicuous, (1.4–) 2–4 (–6.7) x 0.9–1.5 (–1.7) mm; rhachis (when present) 0.7–5.0 (–7.5) mm long, glabrous; pinnae (1–) 2–4 (–6) pairs, 2–5 (–7) cm long; pinnules (7–) 10–14 (–17) pairs, (2.2–) 4–8.5 (–15) mm long, (0.9–) 1.5–3.4 (–4.1) mm wide. Inflorescences axillary racemes or panicles usually about the same length as the leaves or in terminal panicles, the raceme or main panicle axis to 20 cm long (but usually much shorter), axillary shoots (0.2–1.7 cm long and usually with a gland near their apices) often borne immediately below some peduncles; heads (5–) 6–7 (–11)-flowered, (4–) 5–10 mm in diam., dark yellow to golden; peduncles 2–8 mm long, 0.4–0.7 (–0.8) mm diam., glabrous or sparsely to moderately appressed-hairy, hairs white or very pale yellow. Calyx 0.5–0.8 (–1) mm long. Pods 4–9 cm long, 12–13 (–17) mm wide

Occurs in N.S.W. on the Central and South Coast, North, Central and Southern Tablelands as well as the Central Western Slopes; common on the upper parts of the Blue Mountains. Grows mostly on sandstone, on hillsides, forested ridges or sandy flats amongst ridges, in eucalypt forests or woodland, or in open scrub, usually between 500–1100 m alt. Flowers Feb. to Oct.

The distinguishing features of this subspecies include the following characteristics: Branches often glaucous; branchlets and leaves glabrous; petiole 0.7–3.5 cm long, bearing a conspicuous gland 1.4–6.7 mm long; pinnae (1–) 2–4(–6) pairs; inflorescence axes often with axillary shoots with a gland usually near their apex; flower-heads yellow to golden; occurring mainly at higher altitudes.

Representative collections

N.S.W.: Linden, E.C.N.Constable NSW 5281 (BRI, CANB, HO, MEL, NSW, PERTH, Z); 11 km N of Torrington P.O. on the Silent Grove Road, R. Coveny 5704 & N.Lander (CBG, L, MEL, NSW); Capertee, J.L.Boorman NSW 171579, Sep 1915 (B, BRI, CANB, CHR, G, HUJ, L, LE, MEL, MO, NSW, PE, PERTH, RSA, S, W); 6 miles [9.7 km] S of Glow Worm Tunnel, Newnes, Blue Mountains, (17 miles [27.2 km] NNE of Lithgow), R.Coveny 2906 (A, BRI, CANB, ISC, K, NSW, PERTH, U, UC, US); Blue Mountains National Park, Du Faurs Rock, Mt Wilson, B.R.Maslin 5883 (NSW, PERTH); Budawang Range, N of Currockbilly Mtn, 15 miles [24 km] c. NE of Braidwood, E.C.N.Constable 7457 (AD, B, BRI, CANB, NSW, PERTH); Munghorn Gap, 21 miles [33.8 km] NE of Mudgee, E.C.N.Constable 4002, (NSW).


Acacia terminalis subsp. longiaxialis Kodela & Tindale (ms)

Erect, spreading or sometimes straggly shrub to 3 m high. Branchlets angled, long with longitudinal ridges 0.1–0.3 (–0.6) mm high, sparsely to moderately pubescent with erect to ascending (spreading), white hairs to 0.3 mm long. Petiole 0.5–1.9 cm long, sparsely to moderately pubescent, gland 1.3–3.6 x 0.7–1.4 mm long; rhachis (0.5–) 0.8–5.5 (–7.5) cm long, sparsely to moderately pubescent; pinnae (1–) 3–5 (–6) pairs, 2–6 cm long; pinnules 7–19 pairs, (3–) 3.5–13 mm long, (1.3–) 2–4 (–5) mm wide. Inflorescences axillary racemes or sometimes in panicles, the raceme or main panicle axis to 33 cm long; heads 5–9-flowered, 10–13 mm diam., cream to pale yellow; peduncles 5–20 mm long, 0.3–0.5 mm diam., moderately to densely or sometimes only sparsely pubescent. Calyx 0.6–0.9 mm long. Pods 3.5–12.5 cm long, (9–) 10.5–17.5 mm wide.

Occurs from the Toronto area to the far North Coast of N.S.W. Grows in heath and open eucalypt forest, sometimes in swampy areas and along creeks; usually in sandy soil on sandstone, also in clay loam. Flowers March to Oct.

The distinguishing features of this subspecies include the following characteristics: Branchlets and leaf axes pubescent; racemes of heads usually very elongated and unbranched; flower-heads pale yellow, relatively large.


T.Tame, Acacias SE Australia 178, fig. 203a–g (1992) - fig.203h is A. kulnurensis .

Representative collections

N.S.W.: near Smoky Cape, L.Pedley 5542 (BRI, NSW, MEL); Redhead, 4 miles [6.4 km] S of Newcastle, Hunter Valley, R.Story 7233 (CANB, NSW); Gibraltar Range National Park, 62 km ENE of Glen Innes 29 32, R.Coveny 5695 & N.Lander (AD, B, MEL, NSW); Pleasant Creek, Glen Elgin, Dec 1913, J.L.Boorman (NSW).

(BRM & PK)

The above treatment of A. terminalis is based on the Fl. Australia and Fl. N.S.W. treatments of the species, and on Tindale & Kodela’s unpublished revision of this species which was kindly provided for use in WATTLE by Phillip Kodela.

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