Acacia covenyi

Blue Bush

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Mimosoideae

Acacia covenyi, the Blue Bush, is a tall hardy shrub that grows 3 to 6 metres.

It grows purely on the south coast and southern tablelands of NSW, in an area between Milton and Bega, with most records in one patch in Deua National Park.

It grows in dry sclerophyll woodland and forest on limestone-based slopes as well as quartz-based.

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 phyllodes are blue/green, to 5 cm long and about 1-1.5 cm wide; oblong to elliptic and straight to curved with an acuminate tip and mucro.

Up to 8 very small staminate flowers, bright yellow, are arranged in globular heads with heads arranged in axiilary racemes of up to 11 or so. Flowering occurs in August to September.

Pods are straight to curved to 70 mm long by 13 mm wide and oblong in shape.

In the garden

Acacia covenyi has proved to be very hardy and free flowering in both cool climate and more temperate gardens. Acacia covenyi, even without the flowers, rates as an attractive foliage plant.

It requires little maintenance once established and will tolerate drought and some frost.

Jeff Howes: In a northern Sydney garden, three Acacia covenyi were planted about 5 years ago due to their attractive foliage colour, flowers and hardiness. I have found that one of the plants, the one that receives more sun and a bit more moisture than the others, flowers best. My three plants of Acacia covenyi are all now growing well although they were all a bit slow to get going. They are, after all, planted in thin, dry loam over heavy clay.

Warren and Gloria Sheather: In our cold climate garden (near Armidale), it blooms usually start to burst in early August. The foliage and flowers make a stunning combination. Light pruning after flowering will keep plants dense and bushy.

Dan Clarke: I have planted one of these in my southern-Sydney garden on sandstone, in 2022. It is growing well and has reached over 1 metre in a year. I am awaiting its first flowering.

This plant is available from nurseries and seed suppliers, so if you are after a hardy, large shrub or maybe small tree that has an attractive contrast of soft greyish foliage and yellow flowers, then this is the plant for you.


Acacia covenyi propagates rapidly and willingly from cuttings.

Warren Sheather: The Blue Bush has proved to be rather promiscuous and will freely hybridise with other wattles. We do not grow the species from seed collected from our plants because the resultant plants have close affinities with A. vestita and A. cultriformis. These two wattles are prominent in our garden (near Armidale, NSW). We now rely on cutting propagation to produce pure plants for further planting.

Other information

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.

covenyi named after Robert ‘Bob’ George Coveny (b. 1943), a retired botanical collector and technical officer at Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney. Coveny collected almost 20,000 plant specimens for the NSW and other Herbaria. The type specimen was collected near Bendethera Caves, in 1966.

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

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

Australian National Herbarium – Acacia covenyi profile page             https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/trainees-2016/acacia-covenyi.html

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