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Acacia holosericea (Family Fabaceae)

Candelabra Wattle, Wah-roon, Soap Bush, Silver-leaved Wattle

Distribution:

This is an acacia of northern Australia. It extends from northern Western Australia through the Northern Territory to Cape York and north-eastern Queensland. The latitudinal range is 12-25o S and the main altitudinal occurrence is from sea level to 400 m. (WA, NT, QLD).

Features:

A fast-growing, short-lived, small tree or multi-stemmed large shrub up to 9 m high. Branchlets have three acutely angled ribs, either smooth or hairy. Phyllodes are broadly elliptical, 10-25 cm long and about 2-5 cm wide. They have 3 longitudinal nerves. The flowers are bright yellow on spikes, 3-6 cm long in pairs in the phyllode axils. The pods are 2-8 cm long and 2-3 mm wide are in intertwined clusters. The main flowering period is June - August. There are about 93 000 viable seeds per kilogram. Seeds need pre-treatment with boiling water for one minute to promote germination.

Ecology/Way of Life:

It occurs in the warm to hot sub-humid zone with extension to the semi-arid zone. Most of the distribution is frost free. The annual rainfall range is 300-1100 mm with a summer maximum (December - March) and a dry season of 5-7 months. It grows on inland plains, hilly uplands and coastal lowlands, commonly along watercourses. The soils are mainly shallow sandy loam soils and less commonly fine-textured alluvial soils. A typical pioneer species, it colonises disturbed sites. It is commonly associated with melaleucas, casuarinas and other acacias, and in the more humid parts of its range in Queensland it occurs as an understorey in tall eucalypt woodland.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

A useful species for fuelwood, charcoal, windbreaks and soil conservation. The hard dark brown heartwood can be turned into small decorative items. It splits easily, dries rapidly and makes an excellent fuel. The foliage of this acacia is not grazed to any extent by stock in Australia. Northern Australian Aboriginal people used it for many purposes; different parts of the plant were used to make bush soap, medicines, fish poison and spear shafts. The seeds can be ground into flour and used in cooking. Recently it has been used to revegetate land after mining. It has been planted in countries such as India and China. It seeds heavily and grows rapidly which suggest it has the potential to become a weed in some situations.

Other Comments:

A useful species for fuelwood, charcoal, windbreaks and soil conservation. The hard dark brown heartwood can be turned into small decorative items. It splits easily, dries rapidly and makes an excellent fuel. The foliage of this acacia is not grazed to any extent by stock in Australia. Northern Australian Aboriginal people used it for many purposes; different parts of the plant were used to make bush soap, medicines, fish poison and spear shafts. The seeds can be ground into flour and used in cooking. Recently it has been used to revegetate land after mining. It has been planted in countries such as India and China. It seeds heavily and grows rapidly which suggest it has the potential to become a weed in some situations.

Further Reading:

Brock, J. 2001. Native plants of northern Australia. Reed New Holland, Sydney.

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.

House, A.P.N. and Harwood, C.E. (eds.) 1992. Australian dry-zone acacias for human food. CSIRO, East Melbourne. 145p.

Maslin, B.R. and McDonald, M.W. 1996. A key to useful Australian acacias for the seasonally dry tropics. CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products, Canberra. 80p.

Topics: Aboriginal resources Windbreak Soil Conservation Aboriginal resources Soils Vegetation types Climatic zones Firewood Timber Germination

Acknowledgments:

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

Sponsored by:

Maurice McDonald/ACIAR


 

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