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Acacia wickhamii

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Acacia wickhamii Benth. (as ‘Wickhami’), London J. Bot . 1: 377 (1842)

Erect to low spreading, glabrous, resinous shrub to 2.5 m high, mostly branching from or near base. Bark smooth or finely fissured, usually grey. Branchlets angular towards apices otherwise terete, with resin-crenulated ridges. Phyllodes narrowly lanceolate to broadly ovate, narrowly elliptic to broadly elliptic, oblong or orbicular, straight or curved, sigmoid or nonsigmoid, 0.4–3 cm long, 1.5–10 mm wide, flat to undulate, coriaceous, with 3 or 4 (rarely 2) longitudinal nerves per mm, 3–7 being more prominent (main nerves) and the minor nerves obscure; gland inconspicuous, to 1 mm above pulvinus; pulvinus 0.2–0.7 mm long. Inflorescences single or sometimes paired; heads obloid or spicate (0.5–3.5 cm long), rarely globular (c. 0.3 cm diam.), yellow to bright yellow or golden to orange-yellow. Flowers 5-merous; calyx cupular, 0.6–1 mm long, dissected for 1/8–1/4; corolla 1–1.7 mm long, dissected for 1/3–3/5, the petals with prominent midrib. Pods narrowly oblanceolate, sometimes very narrowly elliptic to linear, basally tapered, straight-sided, flat, 2–9 cm long, 3.5–10 mm wide, thinly woody to woody, the outer surface of valves often with paler areas over seeds, obliquely nerved, opening elastically from apex; seed-partitions present. Seeds oblique, narrowly oblong-elliptic or oblong-elliptic, 2.5–5 mm long, brown to dark brown; areole open, with pale halo; funicle-aril narrowly turbinate.

This species occurs in northern W.A., N.T. and Qld. It is a member of the ‘ A. stigmatophylla group’.

There are four subspecies, however, intermediate specimens occur mainly from or near the distribution boundaries of the taxa and areas where they overlap.


1 Flower heads obloid or shortly spicate (mostly 0.5–1 cm long) or sometimes globular (c. 0.3 cm diam.); phyllodes with 3 prominent or subprominent main nerves, narrowly lanceolate-elliptic, 1–2.3 cm long, 1.5–5 mm wide (northeastern Qld)

subsp. cassitera

1: Flower heads spicate or sometimes obloid, 0.5–3.5 cm long; phyllodes with 3–7 prominent or obscure main nerves, narrowly lanceolate to broadly ovate, narrowly elliptic to broadly elliptic, oblong or orbicular, 0.4–3 cm long, 2–10 mm wide

2 Phyllodes with 7 prominent or subprominent main nerves, rarely sigmoid, glaucous or green (mainly when young), 0.7–2.3 cm long, lower ones often spreading at right angles to the branchlets as well as sometimes the upper ones (W.A., N.T.)

subsp. viscidula

2: Phyllodes with 3–7 obscure or subprominent main nerves, sigmoid or nonsigmoid, bright green to green or slightly glaucous, 0.4–3 cm long, spreading at acute or right angles to the branchlets

3 Phyllodes usually sigmoid but sometimes straight, 0.8–3 cm long, mostly spreading at acute angles to the branchlets (W.A., N.T.)

subsp. wickhamii

3: Phyllodes nonsigmoid, 0.4–1.6 cm long, usually spreading at right angles to the branchlets (N.T., northwestern Qld)

subsp. parviphyllodinea


Acacia wickhamii Benth. subsp. wickhamii

Erect or low spreading shrub (0.25–) 0.4–1.3 (–1.6) m high. Phyllodes mostly spreading at acute angles to branchlets (occasionally some phyllodes at right angles), narrowly elliptic to elliptic, narrowly lanceolate to lanceolate or sometimes narrowly ovate to ovate, usually sigmoid, flat or slightly undulate, (0.8–) 1–2.5 (–3) cm long, (3–) 3.5–8 (–10) mm wide, usually green or bright green, sometimes becoming grey-green or slightly glaucous, with 3 or more obscure to subprominent main nerves. Heads spicate or rarely obloid, (0.8–) 1–3.5 cm long. Peduncles (5–) 10–15 (–18) mm long. Pods to 6.5 cm long, 4.5–10 mm wide.

Occurs in the Kimberley region of W.A. east from the Dampier Peninsula (particularly the One Arm Point-Sunday Is. area) to the Lake Argyle region, and into the N.T. as far east and north as Willeroo. Grows in red or yellow sandy loam or gravelly soil, in eucalypt woodland or open woodland with grassy or shrubby undergrowth, savannah woodland, open scrub or shrubland, often with spinifex, on plains, low hills or steep stony hillsides, often in undulating country. On Sunday Is. and other coastal areas in the West Kimberley region it grows in skeletal soil over rugged outcropping sandstone, on rocky ridges and cliffs. Flowers recorded Nov.– Mar., May, June, Sept., probably throughout the year.

This taxon varies, especially in the shape of the phyllodes which range from elliptic or narrowly ovate and slightly curved to narrowly elliptic-lanceolate and distinctly sigmoid. The specimen B.J.Carter 549 (PERTH) from Easton Point, far northern Dampier Peninsula, W.A., is unusual in having straight to slightly curved, ovate or elliptic to broadly elliptic phyllodes. See also note below under subsp. cassitera .

Type of accepted name

Swan Bay, NW coast, [W.A.], 1837, Wickham ; syn: K (photo NSW), NSW.


Racosperma wickhamii (Benth.) Pedley, Austrobaileya 2: 357 (1987). Type: as for accepted name.


Illustrations: F.Mueller, Iconogr. Austral. Acacia dec. 11 [pl. 6], fig. 1 (1888), as to habit study, central flowering plant; J.R.Wheeler, in J.R.Wheeler (ed.) et al ., Fl. Kimberley Region 321, fig. 93G (1992).

Representative collections

W.A.: Mount House Stn, J.S.Beard 6973 (DNA, NSW, PERTH); Sunday Is., Nov. 1906, W.V.Fitzgerald (NSW); 26 km SE of Kununurra, M.Lazarides 8446 (CANB, PERTH). N.T.: near Willeroo, B.Maloney 23/75 (CANB, K, NSW); 153 km W of Katherine, M.Parker 432 (DNA, NSW, NT); 40.2 km W of Top Springs turnoff, Victoria Hwy, M.D.Tindale 10109, P.Munns & R.Turley (BRI, DNA, MEL, PERTH).


Acacia wickhami subsp. viscidula (F.Muell.) Tindale, Kodela & D.Keith (ms), to be published in Appendix to Fl. Australia vol. 11 (2001)

Erect shrub (0.3–) 0.5–1.5 (–2.5) m high, often straggly, ascending or spreading. Phyllodes variably spreading usually with the lower ones and often the upper ones spreading at or almost at right angles to the branchlets (specimens from W.A. and the western part of its range in N.T. often tending towards more acute phyllode angles), often oblique, elliptic to broadly elliptic, oblong, ovate or sometimes narrowly ovate, usually nonsigmoid (slightly sigmoid in some specimens approaching or intermediate with subsp. wickhamii ), flat or sometimes undulate, (0.7–) 1–2 (–2.3) cm long, 3.5–10 mm wide, glaucous or green (mainly when young), usually with 7 prominent to subprominent main nerves (3 often being more prominent). Heads spicate, 1.5–3 (–3.5) cm long. Peduncles 2.5–10 (–16) mm long. Pods to 6 (–9) cm long, mostly 5–8 mm wide.

Occurs in W.A. in the Fitzroy Crossing-Mount Fairbairn-Halls Creek area and possibly further east, and in the N.T. from the Wave Hill Stn area northeast to the Cape Crawford area. Grows in often red, sandy or clay loams or gravelly soils, in shrubland, grassland with scattered low mallee eucalypts, savannah or eucalypt woodland, often with spinifex, on plains, undulating country, creek banks, hills or rocky ridges; sometimes growing in dense thickets. Flowers Mar.–Aug.

There are specimens intermediate between subsp. viscidula and subsp. wickhamii from the ‘Inverway’-‘Limbunya’-‘Wave Hill’ area of N.T. which have sigmoid phyllodes spreading at an acute angle to the stem but with prominent main nerves, e.g. G.Chippendale NT5891 (NT, PERTH), G.Chippendale NT5939 (BRI, NSW, NT), C.Dunlop 3535 (CANB, MO, NT). Intermediate specimens also occur in other areas where the subspecies may intergrade such as between Lake Argyle and Halls Creek, e.g. A.C.Beauglehole 53502 (PERTH).

The distributions of subsp. viscidula and subsp. parviphyllodinea overlap in the Daly Waters-Cape Crawford-Borroloola area, N.T., resulting in intergrades between the taxa in this area (see below). Some specimens have slightly less pronounced phyllode nerves than usual, e.g. 130 miles [209 km] E [of] Daly Waters, N.Byrnes 2544 (CANB, DNA, K, NSW, NT); 12 km W of turnoff to Tanumbrini Stn on Carpentaria Hwy, M.O.Rankin 1289 (DNA, NT, PERTH).

Type of accepted name

Dividing tableland between the Victoria River and Sturts [Sturt] Creek, [W.A./N.T.], F.Mueller 85 ; syn: K (photo NSW), NSW; Sturts [Sturt] Creek, [W.A./N.T.], F.Mueller 2 ; syn: K (photo NSW), MEL n.v .


Acacia wickhamii var. viscidula F.Muell. (as ‘Wickhami’), J. Proc. Linn. Soc., Bot . 3: 141 (1859). Type: as for accepted name.


F.Mueller, Iconogr. Austral. Acacia dec. 11 [pl. 6], fig. 1 (1888), as to habit studies, 2 top figures one flowering and one fruiting; J.Brock, Top End Native Pl . 77 (1988).

Representative collections

W.A.: Tanami track, W of Halls Creek, D.Keith & B.Pellow 156 (NSW, PERTH, SYD); 17 miles [27.4 km] S of Rockhole Stn, M.Lazarides 6367 (BRI, CANB, NSW, PERTH). N.T.: 35.2 miles [56.3 km] W [of] O.T. Downs, 11 Mar. 1959, G.Chippendale (BRI, CANB, K, NSW, NT, PERTH); McArthur R.–Daly Waters road, C.H.Gittins 1341 (BRI, DNA, NSW).


Acacia wickhamii subsp. parviphyllodinea Tindale, Kodela & D.Keith (ms), to be published in Appendix to Fl. Australia vol. 11 (2001)

Spreading, diffuse or bushy, sometimes flat-topped shrub 0.4–1 (–1.5) m high. Phyllodes usually spreading at right angles to branchlets, orbicular to elliptic or broadly ovate to ovate or rarely narrowly ovate, nonsigmoid, flat to markedly undulate, (0.4–) 0.5–1.6 cm long (up to c. 1 cm long in most specimens examined), (2–) 3–7 (–8.5) mm wide, green or slightly glaucous, with 3 or more obscure main nerves. Heads mostly spicate, (0.5–) 1–3 cm long. Peduncles mostly 3–14 mm long. Pods to 5.5 cm long, 3.5–8 mm wide.

Occurs in the N.T. from the Sturt Plain-Dunmarra-Daly Waters area east to the upper headwater tributaries of the Calvert R. and the Carrara Ra. on the Barkly Tableland (recorded as far north as near Borroloola and south to 1840’S), and in Qld near ‘Westmoreland’ south to the ‘Lawn Hill’-‘Gregory Downs’ area and east to the Normanton area. Grows in red, stony, gravelly, sandy, lateritic or skeletal soils or grey clay with lateritic deposits, in open eucalypt savannah woodland with grass (often spinifex) understorey, or shrubland with Terminalia and eucalypts, on ridges, escarpments or plains; sometimes forming dense thickets. Flowers mainly recorded May–July but also Feb.–Apr. and Nov.

In some specimens the phyllodes have a slightly more prominent nervature approaching that of subsp. viscidula , e.g. 151 km W of Borroloola, N.T., M.O.Parker 979 (BRI, CANB, DNA, NSW, NT); 67 miles (107 km) from Burketown on road to Normanton, Qld, P.Ollerenshaw 1416 & D.Kratzing (BRI, CANB, L).

A number of intermediate specimens exist between subsp. parviphyllodinea and subsp. viscidula , especially in the Daly Waters-Carpentaria Hwy area where they probably intergrade, e.g. N of Nutwood Downs HS, S.T.Blake 17582 (BRI, CANB); 8 miles [12.9 km] S [of] Daly Waters turnoff, G.Chippendale NT1052 (NSW, NT). The specimen J.R.Maconochie 2622 (BRI, CANB, MEL, MO, NT) from ‘29 km N [of] Alex-Tablelands Hwy Junction’ also appears to be an intermediate with subsp. viscidula but is unusual in that the BRI duplicate specimen has slightly sigmoid phyllodes.

Type of accepted name

27 km ESE [of] Tin Mine, N.T., 4 June 1974, J.R.Maconochie 1956 ; holo: NSW; iso: BRI, CANB n.v ., DNA n.v ., NT n.v ., PERTH.


Acacia calligera F.Muell. J. Proc. Linn. Soc., Bot. 3: 141 (1859), nom. inval . (name in synonymy under A. wickhamii ).

Representative collections

N.T.: Seigal Creek Outstation, S of Calvert Hills, N.M.Henry 770 (BRI, CANB, NSW, NT); 38 miles [61.2 km] N of Gallipoli, L.Pedley 2041 (BRI, CANB, K). Qld: 18 km E of ‘Wernadinga’, Burketown–Normanton road, D.H.Benson 863 (NSW); between Cliffdale Ck and Westmoreland Stn, R.Pullen 9166 (CANB, DNA, NSW).


Acacia wickhamii subsp. cassitera (Pedley) Tindale & Kodela (ms), to be published in Appendix to Fl. Australia vol. 11 (2001)

Dense, spreading shrub 0.2–1 m high; often low-branching and sometimes flat-topped. Phyllodes spreading at acute to right angles to branchlets, narrowly lanceolate-elliptic, sigmoid or nonsigmoid, flat, 1–2 (–2.3) cm long (some phyllodes are occasionally shorter), (1.5–) 2–5 mm wide, glaucous or sometimes bright green, usually with 3 prominent or more visible main nerves (the midnerve often most prominent). Heads obloid or shortly spicate, 0.5–1 (–1.4) cm long, or sometimes globular, c. 0.3 cm diam. Peduncles (3–) 7–22 mm long. Pods to 4.1 cm long, 3.5–7 mm wide.

Occurs in northeastern Qld from the Mutchilba area south to the Mount Garnet-Ravenshoe area, on the western side of the Great Dividing Ra. to the Chilligoe area. See note below regarding a possible W.A. occurrence of this taxon. Grows in sandy, stony, gravelly and skeletal soils, in eucalypt open woodland, low open forest and open forest, on ridges and hills; sometimes common and growing in thickets. Flowers recorded Feb., Apr., June, Oct.–Dec., and probably flowers throughout year.

Specimens from the Wonganut Ck area, northwestern Dampier Peninsula, W.A., have the combination of narrow phyllodes and shortly spicate heads resembling, at least superficially, subsp. cassitera, e.g. 'Wonganut Ck', B.J.Carter 635 (DNA, NSW, PERTH) which has spikes 0.8-1.2 cm long, and '2 km NW and downstream of Wonganut Spring', T.Willing 115 (PERTH) which has spikes 1-1.6 cm long. They may represent an atypical form of subsp. wickhamii and require further investigation.

Type of accepted name

Koorboora, Cook District, Qld, Dec. 1970, A.Macdonald ; holo: BRI.


Acacia nuperrima subsp. cassitera Pedley, Austrobaileya 1: 188, fig. 9G (1978); Racosperma nuperrimum subsp. cassiterum (Pedley) Pedley, Austrobaileya 2: 353 (1987). Type: as for accepted name.


M.Simmons, Acacias Australia 2: 133a (1988), as A. nuperrima subsp. cassitera .

Representative collections

Qld: Stannary Hills road, A.W.Dockrill 656 (BRI); Lappa, A.N.Rodd & M.Hardie 4512 (BRI, NSW, PERTH); Herberton–Irvinebank road, I.B.Staples 250474/19 (BRI, CANB, NSW); Chillagoe, 4 Dec. 1970, R.Stirling s.n . (BRI).


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