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Acacia salicina (Family Fabaceae)

Cooba, Coobar, Willow Wattle, Doolan, Broughton Willow, Native Wattle


Its major distribution is in central Queensland and New South Wales but it occurs over much of central South Australia, has a limited occurrence in the south of the Northern Territory and in north-western Victoria. Its latitudinal range is 19-37o S and it is mainly found at altitudes of 50-300 m. (NT, QLD, NSW, SA, VIC)


A vigorous, nitrogen-fixing, tall shrub or small tree 7-13 m high. The tree usually has a well-defined main stem with drooping branches and blue-green or deep green foliage. Phyllodes are extremely variable in size and shape, 4-17 cm long and 4-25 mm broad with a prominent mid nerve. They are thick and sometimes glaucous. The pale yellow flowers are in globular flower heads. Pods are glaucous, thick, woody, oblong, almost straight, 4-12 cm long and 1 cm wide. Seeds are shiny, dark brownish black with a thick red aril. Flowering occurs irregularly throughout the year but mainly in April - June. There are about 15 000 viable seeds per kilogram and pre-treatment with boiling water for one minute promotes germination.

Ecology/Way of Life:

It occurs in warm, sub-humid and wetter parts of the semi-arid zones but extends into the arid zone along watercourses or where supplementary water is available. There are up to 12 frosts a year in inland areas. Mean annual rainfall is 375 -550 mm with a well-developed summer maximum in the north and a winter-spring maximum in the south. It is mostly found on flat, alluvial plains and flood plains but occurs in a range of topography. Major soil types are dark, cracking clays on the flood plains and acid and neutral red earths. It grows on a wide range of soils and tolerates saline and alkaline conditions. It is found in woodland, open-woodland, open-forest and sometimes in shrublands. In the east, it is associated with ironbarks, such as Eucalyptus crebra, and brigalow, Acacia harpophylla. On flood plains and watercourses E. camadulensis is a major associate.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

The heartwood is dark brown, attractively marked, close-grained and moderately heavy. It takes a high polish and has been used for quality furniture. It has some fodder value and has been planted for this purpose in North Africa. It is used for shade, shelter and ornamental purposes in North Africa and the Middle East. It suckers freely and can be used to stabilise sandy areas and control erosion along stream banks.

Other Comments:

Acacia salicina was named by John Lindley (1799-1865), an assistant to Sir Joseph Banks, and later Professor of Botany at the University of London and Cambridge University. His specimens were collected on Sir Thomas Mitchell's third expedition in eastern Australia. The name is derived from the Greek akakia = a thorny plant, specifically Acacia arabica; and the Latin salix = willow, referring to the weeping habit of the tree.

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.

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


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

Sponsored by:

Tim Vercoe/ACIAR


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