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Acacia silvestris (Family Fabaceae)

Bodalla Wattle, Bodalla Silver Wattle, Red Wattle


This species has a limited distribution in eastern Victoria and the south coastal region of New South Wales. Latitudinal range is 35-38o S. It is mainly found at altitudes between 30-300 m but occurs to 1000 m. (NSW, VIC)


A fast-growing, nitrogen-fixing tree commonly 8-20 m in height but sometimes up to 30 m tall and 1 m diameter. Open-grown specimens have a short trunk and are very branchy but trees grown in forest conditions have a long clean stem of up to 20 m. Young branches are covered with a dense mat of silvery hairs. The leaves are bipinnate with 6-18 pairs of pinnae, each with up to 40 pairs of leaflets. The flowers are in bright yellow globular heads. The pods are 5-15 cm long and 6-10 mm wide, slightly hairy, glaucous and constricted between the seeds. Flowering is in mainly in July - September and seed is mature in December - January. There are about 37 000 viable seeds per kilogram and pre-treatment with boiling water for one minute promotes germination.

Ecology/Way of Life:

The main distribution is the warm sub-humid zone but it extends into the cool sub-humid zone. Most of the distribution experiences heavy frost. Mean annual rainfall is 800-1100 mm more or less uniformly throughout the year. Prolonged droughts are rare. It grows on a wide range of topography including river valleys in mountainous country, steep rocky hillsides and stony ridges. Soils vary from shallow and stony to deep red-brown podzolics and alluvials. It reaches its largest size on the moist, deep soils of moderate fertility in the bottom of gullies. This acacia is a component of tall open-forest, open-forest, woodland and tall shrubland. It may occur as dense pure stands or thickets probably the result of mass regeneration after fire. In New South Wales it is associated with eucalypts such as Eucalyptus bosistoana, E. smithii and E. viminalis. In the drier woodland of Victoria it occurs with E. polyanthemos and E sideroxylon.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

The wood is hard, strong and relatively dense. It is recommended as a fuel and has been used for tool handles. It is locally regarded as having good potential for furniture and general joinery. The bark has a high tannin content but it is inferior to that of Acacia mearnsii. This tree has been planted as an ornamental and is recommended for windbreaks and avenue plantings. Its value for forage is unknown but it is a source of winter pollen for bees. Its fast growth and tendency to form thickets suggest it has the potential to become a weed under some conditions.

Other Comments:

Acacia silvestris was named in 1957 by Mary Tindale, a botanist at the National Herbarium, Sydney; the genus is based on the Greek akakia = a thorny plant, specifically Acacia arabica; and the Latin silvestris = of the woods, referring to the fact that the species often grows in forests.

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.

Forestry Commission of New South Wales. 1980. Trees and shrubs for eastern Australia. University of New South Wales Press, Kensington, Sydney. 165p.

Tame, T. 1992. Acacias of southeast Australia. Kangaroo Press, Kenthurst, Sydney. 206p.

Topics: Firewood Windbreak Ornamental Soils Plant structure Climatic zones Vegetation types Timber Honey Germination Nitrogen-fixation


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

Sponsored by:

Jock Morse/ACIAR


Distribution Map

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