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Acacia tumida

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Acacia tumida F. Muell. ex Benth., Fl. Austral. 2: 409 (1864)

Shrub or tree 2–15 m tall. Bark hard, grey. Branchlets glabrous or hairy, orange-yellow or pruinose. Phyllodes falcate to sub-falcate or dimidiate, 6–25 cm long, 0.7–6 cm wide, coriaceous, glabrous, pruinose or non-pruinose, green to glaucous; longitudinal nerves numerous (4–7 per mm), close together, parallel but often sparingly to moderately anastomosing. Inflorescences usually racemose (racemes 0.5–1.5 cm long) or axillary or terminal panicles (to 20 cm long), rarely some simple; peduncles 2–10 mm long, glabrous; spikes 2–6 cm long, yellow to light golden. Flowers 5-merous; calyx deeply dissected, pubescent; ovary pubescent. Pods narrowly oblong, sometimes slightly to moderately constricted between and over the seeds, +/- terete or slightly flattened, straight to curved and sometimes twisted, 3–12 cm long, (3–) 5–10 mm wide, woody, glabrous, pruinose or non-pruinose, longitudinally wrinkled or grooved. Seeds oblique, 4–9 mm long, 2–5 mm wide, glossy, black; funicle/aril twice-folded, cream.

Occurs in northern W.A. (Kimberley, Great Sandy Desert and Pilbara regions) and the western portion of the Victoria River District, N.T.

Australian Aborigines traditionally used A. tumida as a food source by roasting the mature seeds, grinding them into a flour, adding water to make a paste, then roasting the mix in coals to make a damper, fide K.F.Kenneally, D.C.Edinger and T.Willing (1996), Broome and beyond: Plants and people of the Dampier Peninsula, Kimberley, Western Australia (Department of Conservation and Land Management: Perth). Other traditional Aboriginal uses include using the bark to make string and using the gum exudate as a source of food.

Acacia tumida is closely related to A. difficilis and A. retinervis . Acacia difficilis is most readily distinguished by its narrower pods with longitudinally arranged seeds, also its bark is grey-brown and fibrous (in A. tumida the bark tends to be dark grey, hard and fissured, also the upper trunk and branches are often pruinose). Acacia retinervis differs from A. tumida primarily in having phyllodes with a fine, close reticulum; also, this species sometimes maintains hairy juvenile foliage on the mature plants (this does not occur in A. tumida ). Acacia dissimilis and A. seclusa are closely related to the above group of species ( A. seclusa appears to be morphologically intermediate between A. tumida and A. retinervis ).

Hybrids occur between A. tumida and A. eriopoda , A. monticola and probably also A. trachycarpa , see B.R.Maslin and M.W.McDonald (1996), A Key to Useful Australian Acacias for the Seasonally Dry Tropics (CSIRO: Melbourne.).

Three varieties are recognised:


1 Phyllodes mostly +/- straight and dimidiate, 6–12 cm long, 2.5–3.5 cm wide; multistemmed shrub

var. kulparn

1: Phyllodes mostly falcate and greater than 12 cm long, single-stemmed tree

2 Phyllodes 10–20 cm long, 1–6 cm wide, pods 3–12 cm long, 6–10 mm wide, seeds 6–7 x 3–4 mm

var. tumida

2: Phyllodes 17–25 cm long, 0.7–1.2 cm wide, pods 3–7 cm long, 3–5 mm wide, seeds 4 x 2 mm

var. extenta


Acacia tumida F. Muell. ex Benth. var. tumida

Pindan wattle, Sickle-leaf wattle, Wangai, Spear wattle

Openly-branched tree or tall shrub 3–15 m tall. Branchlets orange-yellow or obviously pruinose. Phyllodes lanceolate-falcate, sometimes sub-falcate, 10–20 cm long, 1–6 cm wide, normally grey-green to glaucous and pruinose, sometimes glossy green and not pruinose; minor nerves with distinct or obscure internerve spaces, sparsely to moderately anastomosing. Inflorescences axillary racemes 0.5–15 cm long or axillary or terminal panicles to 20 cm long; peduncles 2–10 mm long; spikes 2–6 cm long. Pods +/- terete or slightly flattened, 3–12 cm long, 6–10 mm wide, normally lightly to moderately pruinose, rarely non-pruinose. Seeds 6–7 mm long, 3–4 mm wide.

Occurs in the Kimberley and Pilbara regions, W.A., ranging eastward to the NW part of the Victoria River region, N.T. In the Kimberley it extends to a number of off-shore islands, including those in the Bonaparte Archipelago and Buccaneer Archipelago. Grows in woodland on sand or sandy loam; it is usually found on depositional or run-on habitats, often along drainage lines. It often regenerates prolifically from seed following fires or mechanical disturbance, and is common along disturbed roadsides where it often forms dense thickets. Flowers mainly in June-July.

This subspecies is superficially similar to A. hamersleyensis which also occurs in the Pilbara region.

Variety tumida is capable of relatively fast growth and has recently been cultivated in a number of countries, notably, Senegal, Yemen and Vietnam, as a source of firewood; it also has potential for use in revegetation and land reclamation.

Type of accepted name

Point Pearce, Victoria R., N.T., Dec 1855, F.Mueller 100 ; lecto: K, fide L.Pedley, Contr. Queensland Herb . 15: 17 (1974); isolecto: MEL, NSW, PERTH.


Acacia tumida F.Muell., J. Proc. Linn. Soc., Bot . 3: 144 (1859), pro syn. sub A. retinervis .


F.Mueller, Iconogr. Austral. Acacia dec. 9 [pl. 8] (1888); B.R.Maslin, in J.Jessop (ed.), Fl. Centr. Australia 125, fig. 161J (1981); M.Simmons, Acacias Australia 2: 271 (1988); B.R.Maslin and M.W.McDonald, A Key to Useful Australian Acacias for the Seasonally Dry Tropics (CSIRO: Melbourne.), 75 (1996); K.F.Kenneally, D.C.Edinger and T.Willing, Broome and beyond: Plants and people of the Dampier Peninsula, Kimberley, Western Australia (Department of Conservation and Land Management: Perth). 134–135 (1996).

Representative collections

W.A.: Hamersley Pass, Yampire Gorge, J.S.Beard 2912 (PERTH); Shay Gap, ca 50 miles E of Goldsworthy, R.F.Maslin s.n (PERTH); Cape Leveque Rd, 12.6 km N of Beagle Bay turnoff, I.V.Newman 652 (NSW); 10.9 km S of Halls Creek turnoff on the Great Northern Hwy, M.D.Tindale 10140, P.Munns & R.Turley (B, BRI, CANB, MO, NSW, UC). N.T.: Jasper Gorge, M.Parker 450 (DNA, NSW).


Acacia tumida var. extenta M.W.McDonald (ms)

Mt Trafalgar wattle.

Slender, openly-branched tree 4–7 m tall. Branchlets lightly pruinose. Phyllodes falcate to shallowly falcate, tapered gradually toward the apex, tapered narrowly at base, 17–25 cm long, 7–12 mm wide, green and glossy; minor nerves close but separated by distinct internerve spaces, not anastomosing; pulvinus 6–10 mm long. Inflorescences simple (1–2 per axil) or arranged in terminal racemes or panicles to 8 cm long; peduncles 2–4 mm long; spikes 2–4 cm long. Pods +/- terete, 3–7 cm long, 3–5 mm wide, not pruinose. Seeds 4 mm long, 2 mm wide.

Known only from Mt Trafalgar in the northern Kimberley region, W.A., where it grows on a sandstone plateau in rocky, sandy soil. Flowers in June.Variety extenta is distinguished from var. kulparn and var. tumida by its wispy growth habit, long, slender, glossy green phyllodes and its small pods and seeds.

Type of accepted name

Site 3, under cliff at Mount Trafalgar, 14 Jun. 1987, K.F.Kenneally 10404 and B.P.M.Hyland; holo: PERTH; iso: CANB, DNA, K, NSW.

Representative collection

W.A.: Summit of Mt Trafalgar, Prince Regent River Reserve, W.A., 29 Aug. 1974, A.S.George 12787 (PERTH).


Acacia tumida var. kulparn M.W.McDonald (ms)

Kulparn (Walmajarri people from the Great Sandy Desert, W.A.).

Multistemmed shrub 1–2 m tall. Branchlets pruinose or non-pruinose, often flexuose. Phyllodes dimidiate and +/- straight, sometimes sub-falcate, 6–12 cm long, 2.5–3.5 cm wide, green and glossy or grey-green and lightly pruinose; minor nerves very close together (+/- touching) or separated by narrow or distinct internerve spaces, sparsely to moderately anastomosing; pulvinus 4–5 mm long. Racemes 0.5–15 cm long, panicles (when present) to 10 cm long; peduncles 4–6 mm long; spikes 2–4.5 cm long. Pods +/- terete to slightly flattened, 3.5–12 cm long, 6–12 mm wide, not pruinose. Seeds oblique in pods, elliptic, 7–9 mm long, 4–5 mm wide.

Occurs in the Tanami Desert and Great Sandy Desert, W.A. where it grows on red aeolian sand dune systems or sand plains in "Spinifex" country. Flowers in June and July.

Variety kulparn mainly differs from var. tumida and var. extenta by its multistemmed growth habit, its stouter, often flexuose branchlets and its shorter, dimidiate phyllodes. It also differs in its arid zone habitat and in being fire tolerant (coppices from its rootstock following fires). By contrast, plants of var. tumida are killed by fire; populations of this variety regenerate from seedlings.

Type of accepted name

2.4 km N along turn-off to Wallal Downs and 80 Mile Beach from Great Northern Highway, W.A., 5 Nov. 1998, M.W.McDonald 2539 and P.A.Butcher ; holo : PERTH; iso : CANB, DNA, K, NSW.

Representative collections

W.A.: 33 miles W of Well 33, Canning Stock Route, A.S.George 9119 (PERTH, TLF); Great Sandy Desert, Grassland 1:250,000, Acacia No.2 Wellsite, W.K.Harris & J.Scibi 107 (PERTH, WS); 96.5 km SE of Fitzroy Crossing on Great Northern Highway to Halls Creek, B.R.Maslin 7259 (PERTH); Dampier Downs Station near Edgar Ranges, M.McDonald 1839 & D.Hafner (PERTH).



The Fl. Australia treatment of A. tumida has been replaced here in WATTLE in order to take into account a new classification of the species that is pending. The above treatment is taken from an unpublished ms (in prep.) provided by M.W.McDonald.

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