Acacia cognata

Bower Wattle, River Wattle

Family: Fabaceae Subfamily Mimosoideae

Acacia cognata is an erect or spreading tree or shrub to 10 m tall, it is found in dry sclerophyll forest and woodland, in sandstone and granite-derived soils, generally south from Nowra in NSW, with most of its extent concentrated on the south coast subdivision, extending into the southern tablelands. However, there are also records at Pokolbin in the Hunter Valley. Extends into Victoria.

Phyllodes (modified leaves) are linear and very narrow, slightly curved, to 10 cm long and only 0.4 cm wide, dotted with resin glands, often sticky, with a mucro at the apex. Overall, the foliage has a weeping, delicate appearance

Flowers are arranged in globular heads, to 6 mm diameter, with up to 25 very small staminate flowers per head. Pale lemon in colour. Heads are produced solitarily or in pairs in phyllode axils, creating sprays up and down the plant.

Pods straight, and flat, raised over seeds, to 10 cm long and 0.4 cm wide.

In the garden

One of the most foremost and popular wattles to be grown, especially the compact dwarf cultivars ‘Limelight’ and ‘Bower Beauty’ (amongst others) and the tree cultivar ‘Lime Magik’

Very hardy, can be used in formal gardens, planted in a row or used as a hedge. Great gap-filling plant and to create rounded structure (dwarfs forms). Tree-forms are very attractive with weeping foliage.

Hardy in a range of soils, but give good drainage to thrive. A slight slopes works very well. Prune to shape to that desired.

Used in a wide range of landscapes.

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. Cultivated forms will need to be propagated from cuttings.

Other information

As stated above, cultivars include: ‘Limelight’, ‘Bower Beauty’, ‘Green Mist’ (dwarf forms) and others. The dwarf forms grow to less than 1 m tall but can spread wider, and usually create a dense coverage over the ground.

The taller shrub/tree forms are “Lime Magik’, ‘Cousin It’, ‘Waterfall’ and there are others.

Most wattles regenerate from seed after fire with some species exhibiting suckering from the base.

Acacia – from Greek acis, meaning a thorn or “thorny”.
cognata – meaning cognate – being related by kinship or common origin. It is named such as it is thought to be closely related and similar to Acacia subporosa, a NSW south coast species.

Not considered at risk in the wild.

https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Acacia~cognata https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/acacia-cognata-limelight-river-wattle/

By Dan Clarke