Maiden's Wattle is distributed in a coastal belt from central Queensland to Victoria but is most common in the coastal forest of New South Wales and southern Queensland. Its latitudinal range is 21-38o S and it is mainly found at altitudes of 25-300 m but may grow up to about 900 m. (QLD, NSW, VIC)
This species is a fast-growing, nitrogen-fixing, large shrub or small tree, 4-8 m tall, typically with a well-defined main stem with many branches, or under favourable conditions, a tree 10-16 m tall with a diameter of 30-40 cm. The bright green crown is conspicuous. Phyllodes are 5-20 cm long by 5-20 mm wide, straight or gently curved and tapering at each end with many fine longitudinal veins. The inconspicuous pale yellow flowers are in loose spikes 2-5 cm long. The pod is fleshy when green but woody and very twisted when mature. Pods are 5-15 cm long and only 3-6 mm wide with the surface sparsely covered in minute grey hairs. Flowering extends from November - July and pods are mature September - December. There are about 58 000 viable seeds per kilogram and pre-treatment with boiling water for one minute promotes germination.
Ecology/Way of Life:
The distribution of Maiden's Wattle is mainly in the warm humid zone with some extension into warm sub-humid areas. Areas close to the coast are frost-free but most other occurrences have 1-10 heavy frosts each year. Mean annual rainfall is 900-1300 mm with a uniform distribution in the south and a summer maximum in the north. It is found mainly along stream banks and lower slopes in the undulating lowlands and the foothills of the coastal escarpment. It also occurs on stabilised sand dunes and sand ridges near the sea and adjacent to mangroves. Its best development is on soils that are moderately fertile, deep, well-drained and often derived from basalt or shales. It is found in tall open-forest or open-forest dominated by eucalypts, on the margins of rainforest in wetter areas, and is very common as regrowth in forest clearings. It is a common understorey associate with Eucalyptus grandis, E. crebra, E. drepanophylla and E. tereticornis.
Interaction with Humans/Threats:
The wood is fairly hard and light in weight with prominent annual rings. It is a good fuel and is suitable for small joinery items but unsuitable for construction timber. Its shape and relatively dense foliage make it suitable for shade and shelterbelt planting.
Acacia maidenii was described in 1892 by Ferdinand J.H. von Mueller, Government Botanist of Victoria. The name comes from the Greek akakia = a thorny plant, specifically Acacia arabica; the species name maidenii honours Joseph Henry Maiden (1859-1925), former Government Botanist of New South Wales and Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, 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.
Lebler, B.A. 1979. Wattles in south-eastern Queensland. Queensland Agricultural Journal 105: 337-352.
Pedley, L. 1978. A revision of Acacia Mill. in Queensland. Austrobaileya 1: 75-234.
Topics:Plant structure Firewood Invasive species/Weeds Climatic zones Soils Vegetation types Timber Germination
Text & map from Australian Trees and Shrubs, courtesy Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research; text edited by J. Turnbull; photo courtesy T. Vercoe.
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