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Acacia verniciflua

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Acacia verniciflua A.Cunn., in B.Field, Geogr. Mem. New South Wales 344 (1825)

Varnish Wattle

Viscid shrub or tree 1–8 m high. Branchlets sometimes flexuose and/or pendulous, terete or angled, glabrous or appressed-puberulous on ribs. Phyllodes variable, narrowly elliptic to oblong-elliptic, lanceolate or linear, 2–15 cm long, 2–30 mm wide, thin, usually obviously resinous-punctate, glabrous or margins and main nerves appressed-puberulous, 2-nerved per face but adaxial nerve sometimes indistinct; lateral nerves absent or few and obscure; gland 0–4 mm above pulvinus. Inflorescences simple, 2 or 3 per axil, sometimes 2–6-headed racemes with axes to 2 mm long; peduncles 3–10 mm long, glabrous or hairy; basal bract persistent or caducous; heads globular to obloid, 30–60-flowered, creamy yellow to golden. Flowers 5-merous; sepals united almost to their apices. Pods narrowly oblong to linear, to 12 cm long, 3–6 mm wide, thinly coriaceous, usually glabrous. Seeds longitudinal, oblong, 3.5–5 mm long, shiny, dark brown to blackish; aril terminal.

Widespread in eastern Australia from Stanthorpe, Qld, S through N.S.W. and A.C.T. to Tas., and Casterton, S of The Grampians, Vic., also a restricted occurrence in the ranges near Adelaide, S.A.

The conventional separation of A. verniciflua (phyllodes 2-nerved per face, with both nerves arising from the base of the phyllode) from A. leprosa (phyllodes 1-nerved per face) generally enables these taxa to be discriminated. Problems may occur, however, when the second nerve in A. verniciflua is poorly developed (occurs especially on plants with very narrow phyllodes) or when in A. leprosa the lateral nerves coalesce to form an intra-marginal nerve on either side of the midrib. Both these species are highly polymorphic and detailed field and laboratory studies are required to elucidate the complex variation patterns and to ascertain the precise nature of the nervation patterns. In the meantime a conservative approach is adopted with respect to both the distinction between the species and the variation within them.

Acacia verniciflua and A. leprosa are closely related to A. ausfeldii , A. cognata and A. stricta , fide A.B.Court, in J.H.Willis, Handb. Pl. Victoria 2: 234 (1973). Other related species include A. dodonaeifolia , A. howittii , A. montana and A. subporosa . Acacia paradoxa appears not far removed from this group as evidenced by the fact that it appears to hybridise with A. ausfeldii , A. dodonaeifolia , A. leprosa , A. stricta and A. verniciflua.

Most of the variation within A. verniciflua is accommodated by the following four variants. While there is general geographical correlation between these variants, more work is needed before ascribing formal rank to them. Some of these variants are illustrated in T.Tame, Acacias SE Australia 108, fig. 106 (1992).

Four variants are recognized within this species as defined here.


1 Peduncles glabrous or with appressed, straight hairs

2 Branchlets glabrous, terete, marked with rather broad, flat yellow bands ("ribs"); phyllodes 2–7 cm long, obtuse to acute

Variant 1

2: Branchlets angled by narrow, glabrous or appressed-puberulous ribs; phyllodes 5–15 cm long, acuminate

Variant 2

1: Peduncles densely tomentose with spreading, crisped hairs

3 Branchlets glabrous; phyllodes not prominently punctate

Variant 3

3: Branchlets appressed-puberulous on ribs; phyllodes prominently punctate

Variant 4


Variant 1: Acacia verniciflua A. Cunn. (typical variant)

The first variant is typical A. verniciflua . It is illustrated in: W.J.Hooker, Bot. Mag . 60: t. 3266 (1833); N.T.Burbidge & M.Gray, Fl. Austral. Cap. Terr. 199, fig. 193G (1970); G.M.Cunningham et al. , Pl. W New South Wales 374 (1981); and, D.J.E.Whibley & D.E.Symon, Acacias S. Australia 2nd edn, 181 (1992). Specimens of this variant form a shrub mostly 1–3 m high. Branchlets sometimes flexuose and/or pendulous, glabrous, terete, lined with normally rather broad, flat or slightly raised, yellow bands separated by dark coloured interstices, glabrous. Phyllodes very variable, narrowly elliptic to lanceolate or linear, straight or incurved, 2–7 cm long, 2–15 mm wide, obtuse to acute. Peduncles glabrous or with appressed, straight hairs. This variant is widespread and common in eastern Australia from near Tamworth, N.S.W., S through the A.C.T. to Casterton, Vic., with restricted occurrences in the Stanthorpe region, Qld and the southern Lofty Ra. area near Adelaide, S.A. (S.A.: near the summit of North Bold, c. 5.5 km ENE of Clarendon, L.Haegi 476 (AD). Qld: Amiens, c. 16 km W of Stanthorpe, G.Ward 281 (BRI). N.S.W.: c. 4.5 km from Denman, R.Coveny 2443 (NSW, PERTH). A.C.T.: mid N slope of Mt Tennent, R.Pullen 2923 (CANB). Vic.: The Grampians, c. 4 km N of Zumsteins, S.T.W.Parfett 56 (MEL, PERTH)). It is extremely variable, especially in habit and phyllode shape and size. Detailed analysis of the perplexing range of variation will probably result in the recognition of a number of discrete taxa within this entity. The names A. gracilis and A. verniciflua var. pendula presumably refer to forms with pendulous branchlets.

Variant 2: Acacia verniciflua A. Cunn. (graveolens variant)

The second variant corresponds to the taxon described as A. graveolens . It is illustrated in G.Loddiges, Bot. Cab . 15: t. 1460 (1828) and W.J.Hooker, Bot. Mag. 60: t. 3279 (1833). Specimens of this variant form a shrub or tree 2–8 m high. Branchlets angled by narrow, glabrous or appressed-puberulous ribs which are normally the same darkish colour as the interstices. Phyllodes narrowly elliptic to lanceolate, 5–15 cm long, 0.5–3 cm wide, acuminate, glabrous or margins and main nerves appressed-puberulous; gland at distal end of pulvinus. Peduncles glabrous or with appressed, straight hairs. This variant is common in south Vic. from Cann Valley to The Grampians, also Mt Werong region and Tumut State Forest, N.S.W., in Qld and northern and south-eastern Tas. (Qld: Stanthorpe, July 1964, G.Ward s.n. (BRI, NSW, PERTH). N.S.W.: Ruby Ck, Mt Werong, L.A.S.Johnson & E.F.Constable (NSW19460); Tumut State Forest, J.Johnson 24 May 1979 (NSW). Vic.: 2.2 km by road from Erica township towards Walhalla, D.E.Albrecht 1883 (MEL). Tas.: Hobart, 7 Feb. 1819, A.Cunningham 125 (K)). Plants from Tas. often have smaller phyllodes than those from Vic., i.e. 5–8 cm long, 5–10 mm wide. This variant is similar to A. leprosa (large phyllode variant) which is most readily distinguished by its 1-nerved phyllodes with a rather prominent gland 2–8 mm above the pulvinus.

Variant 3: Acacia verniciflua A. Cunn. (exudans variant)

The third variant corresponds to the type of A. exudans .. Specimens of this variant have branchlets glabrous, terete, lined with rather broad, flat, yellow bands separated by dark coloured interstices. Phyllodes narrowly elliptic to lanceolate, 3–6 cm long, 0.5–2 cm wide, resinous-punctate but punctae not as frequent as in other variants; gland 2–4 mm above pulvinus. Peduncles stout, densely tomentose with spreading, crisped hairs; flower-heads large; bracteoles acuminate. Pods glabrous. This variant has its distribution restricted in southwestern Vic. to S of The Grampians near Casterton, Glenelg R. (Vic.: c. 22 km SSW of Casterton, P.S.Short 1316 (MEL)). An alternative spelling of this epithet, ‘exsudans’, is discussed by A.D.Chapman, Austral. Pl. Name Index , A- C (Australian Flora and Fauna Series 12: 42, 1991). The original spelling is retained here.

Variant 4: Acacia verniciflua A. Cunn. (Baccus Marsh variant)

The fourth variant has branchlets that are appressed-puberulous on the ribs. Phyllodes narrowly elliptic to oblong-elliptic, sometimes lanceolate, 2–4 cm long, mostly 5–10 mm wide, obtuse to subacute, excentrically mucronate to rostriform, often subuncinate, prominently punctate; margins and main nerves normally appressed-puberulous. Peduncles densely tomentose with spreading, crisped hairs. Pods appressed-puberulous. This variant is most common in the vicinity of Bacchus Marsh, Vic., S of The Grampians (Vic.: Werribee Gorge, A.C.Beauglehole 39928 (MEL); between Bacchus Marsh and the Brisbane Ra., B.R.Maslin 3497 (CANB, PERTH)). A distinctive taxon seemingly most closely related to the third variant. May resemble A. montana .

Type of accepted name

Cox’s R., N.S.W., Oct. 1822, A.Cunningham 220 ; holo: K; iso: BM.


Racosperma vernicifluum (A.Cunn.) Pedley, Austrobaileya 2: 357 (1987). Type: as for accepted name.

Acacia virgata G.Lodd., Bot. Cab. 13: t. 1246 (1827), nom. nud . (plate not accompanied by analysis).

Acacia graveolens G.Lodd., Bot. Cab . 15: t. 1460 (1828); G.Don, Gen. Hist. 2: 404 (1832). Type: ‘a native of New Holland [Australia], introduced in 1820’; n.v.

Acacia binervata Dehnh., Cat. Horti Camald. 2nd edn, 17 (1832), nom. illeg., non DC. (1825). Type: cultivated at the Camalduli botanic garden, Naples, Italy, F.Dehnhardt ; holo: W.

Acacia gracilis Dehnh., loc. cit. Type: cultivated at the Camalduli botanic garden, Naples, Italy, F.Dehnhardt ; holo: W.

Acacia exudans Lindl., in T.L.Mitchell, Three Exped. Australia 2: 212 (1838); A. verniciflua var. latifolia Benth., Fl. Austral. 2: 358 (1864). Type: interior of New Holland [near junction of Steep Bank R. and Glenelg R., Vic.], 10 Aug. 1836, T.L.Mitchell ‘34’ ; holo: CGE; iso: K, MEL, W.  See also A. exsudans hort. ex Mouill. under Doubtful Names .

Acacia verniciflua var. pendula Seem., Verh. K.K. Gartenbauges. Wien 1846: 42 (1846). Type: ‘Ob in Garten erzeugt oder auch im Vaterlande versomme ist mir unbesannt’; n.v.

Acacia leprosa var. binervis F.Muell., J. Proc. Linn. Soc., Bot . 3: 131 (1859). Type: on granite hills between the Broken R. and Miles Ck, Vic., 10 Feb. 1852, F.Mueller s.n. ; holo: MEL1529061.


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