Acacia clunies-rossiae

Kowmung Wattle, Kanangra Wattle.

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Mimosoideae

Acacia clunies-rossiae is a bushy shrub or tree, potentially reaching 10 metres tall by several metres wide.

It grows in dry sclerophyll forest, in valleys, on slopes and ridges, and along creeks in the Kowmung River and adjacent Coxs River district of NSW, entirely within Kanangra-Boyd and Blue Mountains National Parks. It has a very restricted distribution.

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 1: the phyllodes (leaves) are to 7 cm long by 1 cm wide, with a small point at the tip. Young phyllodes are densely hairy.

Acacia spp. produce small 5-merous flowers, with 5 very small petals partly-fused into a short tube which sits above a fused calyx. The stamens are the main feature which are produced in high numbers per flower (staminate flowers), surrounding a single style.  In this species, flowers are produced in globular flower heads with heads arranged in racemes in the leaf axils. Each spray/raceme has 8 to 25 heads. Each head can have up to 9 very small staminate flowers. Produced in August and September, sometimes to November.

Pods are straight or slightly curved or flat except raised over seeds, and are 9 cm long, to 1 cm wide.

In the garden

Cultivation details not known.

Acacias can suffer from a number of pests, including borers, scale, galls and leaf miners. Growing plants suitable to your local environment minimises these occurring.


Propagation is easy from scarified seed by covering with boiling water for 24 hours and discarding any seeds still floating on the surface.

Other information

Most wattles regenerate from seed after fire.

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 which derives from akis, meaning “thorn” – referring to the thorns of species in Africa.

clunies-rossiae – named after Hannah-Elizabeth Clunies-Ross (1862-1947) a foundation member of the Wattle Day League of New South Wales (mother of Sir William Ian Clunies-Ross whose face was on the old paper $50 note issued in 1973).

It is listed as threatened under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and classed as vulnerable in NSW.

NSW Office of Environment and Heritage – Acacia clunies-rossiae profile page https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedSpeciesApp/profile.aspx?id=10009

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Acacia clunies-rossiae profile page

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke.