Acacia calamifolia

Reed-leaf Wattle

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Mimosoideae

Acacia calamifolia, the Reed-leaf Wattle, is a bushy, tall shrub reaching a height of 4 metres, spreading to several metres wide.

It is found on the western slopes, plains and far-western plains of NSW, from Tamworth-region to north of and south to Griffith. It is found in western Victoria and extends into south-east South Australia, extending to Port Lincoln and north of here.

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).

This wattle belongs to Group 1.

The long, narrow phyllodes have a reed-like appearance, to 15 cm in length and 1.5 cm wide, with a hooked apex.

The flowers are held in globular heads that are profuse, conspicuous and golden yellow in colour. Each head is to 5 mm in diameter with 30-40 very small staminate flowers. The heads are produced in racemes of up to 6 in the leaf axils.

The pod is about 15 cm long to 0.6 cm wide, straight to twisted and curved and can be leathery in texture.

In the garden

We first encountered Acacia calamifolia in an Armidale, NSW, garden many years ago and were impressed by the bounteous blooming of this wattle.

In our cold climate garden (near Armidale), Acacia calamifolia survives and thrives in all seasons.

Our specimen carries some flowers for most of the year. We are fond of wattles that flower out of the usual spring flowering season. Such species, including Acacia calamifolia, bring a year-round spring feel to the garden.

It grows in sandy soils in the wild and so may need similar conditions to thrive in a garden. Very drought tolerant once established.

The seed, from this species, forms part of the diet of the rare Mallee Fowl.


Propagate from seed that needs hot water treatment before sowing.

Other information

Acacia calamifolia has an interesting botanical and horticultural history. The species was described and illustrated in a United Kingdom nursery publication in 1824. At this time the species was described as: “a NSW native that flowers during most of the year. Plants are elegant in appearance. Propagation is difficult from cuttings. In winter plants need to be protected in greenhouses.”

Most wattles will die in a fire and regenerate from seed. Some species exhibit suckering from basal parts and roots.

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 (eg: 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.

calamifolia – has foliage similar to the plant called Calamus or Sweet Flag (Acorus calamus) – an aquatic plant.

This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.

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

Wattle – Acacias of Australia – Acacia calamifolia profile page https://apps.lucidcentral.org/wattle/text/entities/acacia_calamifolia.htm

Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.

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