Acacia dawsonii

Poverty Wattle, Mitta Wattle

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Mimosoideae

Acacia dawsonii is an erect shrub to 4 metres tall, spreading to 3 metres or more wide.

It occurs naturally mostly on the tablelands of NSW, in disjunct patches, extending into the western slopes, as far south as Cooma and as far north as Ashford. It just extends into Queensland near Stanthorpe and it extends in Victoria (somewhat disjunctly) occurring around Mitta Mitta and in the Alpine / Snowy River region.

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.

Phyllodes are linear, to 11 cm long and to 0.5 cm wide, with a mucro at the apex, dark green in colour and with prominent venation.

Inflorescences are produced in globular heads, to 5 mm in diameter, with up to 8 flowers per head, golden-yellow in colour and with heads arranged in racemes of up to 9 in leaf axils, produced chiefly in spring.

The pods are straight to slightly curved to 7 cm long and 0.3 cm wide.

In the garden

This plant is not widely cultivated but would suit most gardens due to its size. It may be more widely available in the future.

Pruning after flowering will prevent plants becoming disheveled. It is naturally found on a range of clay to sandy soils including gravels, so possibly not overly fussy regarding soil type.


Propagate from scarified seeds (or treated seeds in boiling water) and probably cuttings.

Other information

Acacia dawsonii is found in large numbers along the Waterfall Way, east of Armidale NSW. Some decades ago there was small roadside population 20 kilometres from Armidale. Over the years, thanks mainly to roadworks moving and damaging the seed, the population has increased considerably particularly west towards Armidale.

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.

dawsonii – named after James Dawson (1854-1937), a surveyor who surveyed the town of Kandos and was one of the first settlers there. He often collected plants whilst surveying. The species was named by R.T Baker.

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

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

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

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