Acacia blakei ssp. diphylla 

Gorge Wattle

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Mimosoideae

Acacia blakei subsp. diphylla is a tall, upright tree that may reach a height of 15 metres.

Acacia blakei subsp. diphylla is known as the Gorge Wattle. This common name refers to one of the species’ strongholds in the gorge country, east of Armidale in northern NSW.

It grows in northern NSW near Gloucester with populations in south east Queensland

Bark is fissured and grey.

Australian Wattles at least, can be broadly placed into 1 of 3 recognisable groups:

  • Group 1: Those that produce juvenile compound-bipinnate leaves and then change to producing adult-phyllodes which are modified-flattened petioles which form the foliage. This is combined with flowers produced in globular balls or heads (or ovoid heads). The heads can be singular in leaf/phyllode axils or arranged in groups.
  • Group 2: As for Group 1 but flowers are produced in longer rod-like spikes.
  • Group 3: Those that never produce phyllodes and retain the juvenile compound-bipinnate foliage into adulthood. These always produce flowers in globular balls (which are secondarily arranged into panicle or raceme-like groups in many cases).

It is thought that Groups 1 and 2 are more highly evolved than Group 3.

This species is of Group 2. The species is unusual in having both juvenile and adult phyllodes. Adult phyllodes are up to 17 cm long and leathery while the juvenile phyllodes are the same size but are soft and shiny. In both cases foliage is dense.

In mid-spring plants become covered with golden yellow, rod-shaped flower heads, about 5 cm long.

The fruit is a pod, about 10 cm long by 0.4 cm wide, curved to flat.

In the garden

Acacia blakei subsp. diphylla is one wattle that does not require pruning to maintain its shape and foliage density.

It could be cultivated as a “stand alone” specimen in the larger garden. It could also be cultivated as an eye-catching component of shelterbelts and windbreaks.

Both foliage and flowers are attractive features.

It prefers well drained soils etc in full sun.


Propagate from seed that should be soaked in boiling water before sowing. The species may also be propagated from cuttings. 

Other information

The species was originally named Acacia diphylla but in 1990 was made a subspecies of A. blakei, as the latter species does not have immature phyllodes. Perhaps the name A. diphylla should be reinstated because this is a major species difference.

Most wattles will die in a fire and regenerate from seed. Some species can sucker from basal parts.

Acacia is a highly diverse genus, with over 1500 recognised species (placing it in the top-10 most-diverse plant genera) occurring in most continents except for Europe. Australia has about 970 spp., most of which are endemic. There are also about 10 exotic species. NSW has about 235 recognised species. Some species have become weeds in other states outside of their natural range (e.g., wattles from Western Australia into NSW and vice versa).

Acacia – from Greek Akakia – which refers to an Ancient Greek preparation made from one of the many species; the name of which derives from akis, meaning “thorn” – referring to the thorns of species in Africa.

blakei – Named after Stanley Thatcher Blake (1911-1973), who served as President of the Royal Society of Queensland, and worked as a botanist with the Queensland Herbarium from 1945-1973.

diphylla – Latin meaning “two-leaves” – referring to this subspecies producing very different phyllodes in juvenile plants compared to adult plants.

This subspecies is not known to be at risk of extinction in the wild.

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Acacia blakei subsp. diphylla profile page. https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=in&name=Acacia~blakei~subsp.+diphylla

By Warren and Gloria Sheather. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke.