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Acacia stenophylla (Family Fabaceae)

Munumula, Balkura, Gurley, Gooralee, Ironwood, Dalby Wattle, River Cooba, River Myall, Belalei, Eumong, Native Willow, Black Wattle, Dunthy


This acacia has an extensive distribution in inland Australia including northern Victoria, western New South Wales, western Queensland, north-eastern South Australia and the Northern Territory. Its latitudinal range is 17-36o S and altitudinal range from near sea level to 625 m. (QLD, NSW, VIC, SA, NT)


A nitrogen-fixing small tree, 4-10 m tall which may be single-stemmed or divided into several stems about a metre above the ground. The spreading, pendulous branches form a rounded crown. Phyllodes are long and narrow, 15-40 cm by 3-8 mm, straight or sometimes curved and usually smooth with many prominent fine, longitudinal nerves. Pale yellow flowers are in globular heads. Pods are greyish or brown, very constricted between the seeds, 10-20 cm long by 1 cm wide. The seed is not easily separated from the pod which breaks up into single seed units. Flowering is irregular and peak flowering times vary throughout its extensive range. There are about 10 000 viable seeds per kilogram and pre-treatment with hot water 90oC for one minute promotes germination. Boiling water treatment is too severe.

Ecology/Way of Life:

It occurs in the warm arid zone but the larger trees and more extensive stands grow in semi-arid areas of New South Wales and Queensland. There are 1-20 heavy frosts per year. Mean annual rainfall is 125-600 mm with high variability and a summer maximum in the north. Incident rainfall is often supplemented by groundwater or periodic flooding. It is found on river flood plains, on the margins of watercourses and gentle slopes. Soils are mainly fine-textured alluvials, grey cracking clays and red sandy clay. They may have a high pH and may be saline. This acacia frequently forms pure stands along watercourses in semi-arid areas. It is an understorey component of open-forest, woodland or low woodland dominated by eucalypts. Near rivers Eucalyptus camaldulensis is the principal species often flanked by communities of E. coolabah in the north and E. largiflorens in the south.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

The timber is very hard, heavy, close-grained, reddish brown to almost black. It is used for fence posts and makes an excellent fuel. The phyllodes are palatable to sheep but rarely eaten by cattle. Seeds and pods were roasted and used by Aboriginal people as a food source. It makes a good windbreak and is ornamental. It has good potential for planting on salt-affected soils.

Other Comments:

Acacia stenophylla was named by Allan Cunningham, botanist and explorer, in 1842; the genus name comes from the Greek akakia = a thorny plant, specifically Acacia arabica, and the species name is formed from stenos = narrow, and phyllon = leaf, referring to its very narrow phyllodes.

Further Reading:

Doran, J.C. and Turnbull, J.W. (eds.) 1997. Australian trees and shrubs; species for land rehabilitation and farm planting in the tropics. ACIAR Monograph no. 24. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Canberra. 384p.

Marcar, N.E. Crawford, D.F., Leppert, P.L., Jovanovic, T., Floyd, R. and Farrow, R. 1995. Trees for saltland. A guide to selecting native species for Australia.. CSIRO, Melbourne. 72p.

Marcar, N.E., Ismael, S., Hossain, A.K.M.A. and Ahmad, R. 1999. Trees, shrubs and grasses for salt lands: an annotated bibliography. ACIAR Monograph no. 56. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Canberra. 316p.

Pedley, L. 1978. A revision of Acacia Mill. in Queensland. Austrobaileya 1: 75-234.

Topics: Soils Firewood Timber Windbreak Plant structure Climatic zones Vegetation types Aboriginal resources Germination Nitrogen-fixation Fodder


Text & map from Australian Trees and Shrubs, courtesy Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research; text edited by J. Turnbull; photo courtesy D. Lea.

Sponsored by:

David Lea/ACIAR


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