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Acacia tetragonophylla

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Acacia tetragonophylla F.Muell., Fragm . 4: 3 (1863)

Dead Finish , Kurara, Curara

Intricate, often straggly, shrub or tree normally 2–5 m high. Branchlets glabrous. Phyllodes fasciculate in groups of normally 2–6 on nodose, dwarf, lateral branchlets, single on new shoots, linear-subulate, usually pentagonal to compressed in section, mostly 1–5 cm long, usually c. 1 mm wide, pungent, with slender, 1–2 mm long cusp, rigid, glabrous, rather prominently 5 (–7)-nerved, usually sulcate between nerves when dry. Inflorescences simple, 1–5 per axil; peduncles 1–3 cm long, glabrous; heads globular, densely 50–90-flowered, golden. Flowers 5-merous; sepals free, linear-spathulate. Pods raised over seeds and slightly to markedly constricted between them, curved to openly 1 1/2 coiled, often twisted following dehiscence, normally to 10 cm long and 4–6 mm wide, subwoody to coriaceous or thinly crustaceous, glabrous. Seeds longitudinal, elliptic, 4–5.5 mm long; funicle encircling seed, bright yellow.

Widespread in arid and semi-arid areas from Onslow and Dongara, W.A., throughout southern N.T. and most of S.A. E to near Charleville, Qld., and near Brewarrina, N.S.W. Grows in a variety of habitats, but often near watercourses or in Mulga communities.

The phyllodes occur singly on actively growing new shoots but with age additional phyllodes develop to form a fascicle which is ultimately borne on nodose, dwarf lateral branchlets. This phyllode arrangement is uncommon in subg. Phyllodineae but, according to J.H.Ross, Mem. Bot. Surv. S. Africa 44: 12 (1979), is common in subgenus Acacia (infrequent in subg. Aculeiferum ). Specimens with single phyllodes resemble A. quadrisulcata and the acicular phyllode variant of A. maitlandii .

Specimens with unusually broad, flat phyllodes occur near North West Cape, W.A. These phyllodes reach 3 mm wide, are 1- (rarely 2-) nerved on each face and have a thickened, 2-nerved adaxial margin (e.g. c. 5 km due N of Learmonth airport, B.R.Maslin 4763 , BRI, PERTH). A variant from near Adavale, Qld, is recorded by M.Simmons, Acacias Australia 48 (1981). It is reported to be a tree to 6 m high with pendulous branches and phyllodes which are less sharp and less brittle than normal.

Poor to moderate nutritive value but regarded as a drought standby fodder in W.A. and central Australia. Further details on foliage value and range condition indicator value are provided by A.A.Mitchell & D.G.Wilcox, Arid Shrubland Pl. W. Australia 288 (1988).

Phyllodes and bark of root used traditionally by N.T. aborigines for superficial skin lesions, for bandaging of fractures of the limbs and to remove warts, while in W.A. the bark is used for coughs, fide, Aboriginal Communities of the Northern Territory, Traditional Aboriginal Medicines N. Territory Austral. 42- 45 (1993) (Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory of Australia, Darwin).

Affinities unknown.

Type of accepted name

Darling R. [between Wentworth and Wilcannia, fide J.H.Willis, Proc. Roy. Soc. Victoria 75: 247 (1960)], N.S.W., Nov. 1858, J.Dallachy & T.H.Goodwin ; lecto: MEL , fide B.R.Maslin, J. Adelaide Bot. Gard . 2: 319 (1980); isolecto: BM, K, MEL; Cooper Ck, Qld/S.A., J.Murray s.n .; paralecto: K, MEL; Top of Mt Murchison, N.S.W., J.Dallachy & T.H.Goodwin ; paralecto: MEL; Gaginga Mtns [Scopes Ra., N.S.W., fide J.H.Willis, op. cit ., 253], H.Beckler; paralecto: K, MEL; Flinders and Elders Ranges, S.A., F.Mueller ; paralecto: n.v.


Racosperma tetragonophyllum (F.Muell.) Pedley, Austrobaileya 2: 356 (1987). Type: as for accepted name.

Acacia genistoides A.Cunn. ex Benth., Fl. Austral . 2: 330 (1864). Type: Dirk Hartog Is., W.A., 7 Jan. 1822, A.Cunningham 324 ; lecto: K, fide B.R.Maslin, loc. cit ; isolecto: K; Shark Bay, W.A., W.G.Milne s.n .; paralecto: K; South Hutt R., W.A., A.Oldfield s.n. ; paralecto: K; near Mt Curious, Murchison R., W.A., A.Oldfield ; paralecto: K, MEL.

[ Acacia sphacelata auct. non Benth.: G.Bentham, in F.J.H. von Mueller, J. Proc. Linn. Soc., Bot . 3: 121 (1859)]


F. von Mueller, Iconogr. Austral. Acacia dec. 1 (1887), as A. tetragonophylla & A. genistioides ; L.F.Costermans, Native Trees & Shrubs SE Australia 307 (1981); G.M.Cunningham et al. , Pl. W. New South Wales 373 (1981); B.R.Maslin, in J.P.Jessop (ed.), Fl. Central Australia 117, fig. 157F (1981); T.Tame, Acacias SE Australia 102, fig. 98, pl. 98 (1992); D.J.E.Whibley & D.E.Symon, Acacias S. Australia 2nd edn, 113 (1992).

Representative collections

W.A.: 26 km S of Cue towards Mt Magnet, B.R.Maslin 4561 (BRI, PERTH). N.T.: 13 km W of Santa Teresa Mission, M.Lazarides 5733 (K, NSW, PERTH). S.A.: c. 10 km W of Quinyambie HS, L. Frome, D.J.E.Whibley 3546 (PERTH). Qld: 6.2 km from Thargomindah on main road to Tibooburra, N.Hall H78/45 (NSW, PERTH). N.S.W.: near Brooksville, c. 32 km due NW of Weilmoringle, D.J.McGillivray 2967 (K, 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