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Acacia cambagei (Family Fabaceae)

Gidgee, Gidga, Gigya, Gidyea, Stinking Wattle

Distribution:

This acacia has an extensive distribution in eastern Australia from central Queensland into the Northern Territory and southwards into northern South Australia and north-western New South Wales. It ocurs between latitudes 17-32o S and altitudes from 75-500 m. (NSW, QLD, SA, NT)

Features:

Gidgee is a long-lived small tree, 5-15 m tall, with multiple stems at ground level or with a single trunk up to 30 cm diameter. It has a wide crown, usually quite dense, and deeply furrowed bark. Phyllodes are 4-14 cm long and 3-15 mm wide, dull green to pale grey, leathery, with 1-3 prominent nerves. The flowers are in tight, yellow, globular heads. Pods are papery, smooth, flat, oblong, 7-13 cm long and 8-12 mm wide. Flowering is usually in May - September; heavy flowering follows substantial rainfall but may be several years apart. About 21 000 viable seeds are present in a kilogram. Unlike most acacias, the seeds have a thin seed coat and germinate without pre-treatment. Seed storage at low temperature is desirable.

Ecology/Way of Life: Gidgee is common in the warm, semi-arid climatic zone, widespread in the arid zone and less frequent in the sub-humid zone. Occasional light frosts occur over most of the distribution. Mean annual rainfall is highly variable within the range 300-600 mm with a summer maximum. This acacia mainly grows on plains and gently undulating topography in areas subject to irregular flooding. In arid areas it follows drainage lines and forms ribbon-like communities in an otherwise treeless landscape. The soils are generally grey and brown cracking clays derived from sedimentary and basic volcanic rocks. They are relatively fertile and usually alkaline. Acacia cambagei usually occurs in extensive, pure, dense stands forming open forest in wetter areas and low woodland, low open woodland and shrublands on drier sites. In open forest it is associated with eucalypts such as E. cambageana, E. coolabah and E. populnea.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

This species produces excellent firewood and hard, heavy, durable timber that has been widely used for fence posts. It is recommended as a shade and shelter tree for dry areas but should not be planted close to where people live because the phyllodes emit a strong, offensive smell during humid or wet weather. It has limited value as fodder but is a valuable source of pollen for bees, which contribute to pollination.

Other Comments:

Acacia cambagei was named by R.T. Baker, an economic botanist at the Sydney Technological Museum. The genus name is from the Greek akakia = thorny plant, specifically Acacia arabica; cambagei honours R.H. Cambage (1859-1928), a geologist with a wide knowledge of Australian plants.

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.

Hall, N., Boden, R.W., Christian, C.S., Condon, R.W., Dale, F.A. Hart, A.J., Leigh, J.H., Marshall, J.K, Macarthur, A.G., Russell, V. and Turnbull, J.W. 1972. The use of trees and shrubs in the dry country of Australia. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra. 558p.

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

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

Acknowledgments:

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

Sponsored by:

Brian Gunn/ACIAR


 

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