Acacia dorothea

Dorothy's wattle

Family: Fabaceae Subfamily Mimosoideae

A shrub, growing from 0.3 to 4 metres high.

It is confined naturally to NSW, occurring in a few disjunct patches; near Robertson in the southern highlands of NSW, as well as the Newnes District north of Lithgow and around Lithgow, as well as west of Lake Burragorang (south of Katoomba) – with a few scattered records elsewhere.

It is typically found in dry sclerophyll forest and woodland or sclerophyll shrubland, on sandy as well as heavier soils, as well as granite, reportedly on ridgetops but also in steep gullies.

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, merging with Group 2.

It has phyllodes that are oblanceolate to narrowly-elliptic and straight to slightly curved, to 8 cm long; blue-green in colour.

Flowers are bright to deep yellow with very small staminate flowers produced in globular heads; although in this species the heads can also be shortly cylindrical spikes. The heads/spikes are clustered in groups (racemes) of 5 to 8, produced in the leaf axils. Flowering occurs in August to October.

Seed pods are straight to slightly curved to 6 cm long, and about 1 cm wide.

In the garden

Not much is known currently about this species in cultivation. It may not have been trialled sufficiently or may be difficult to grow. It may be more widley cultivated in the future. It is a wattle which laurel-like leaves and so would likely be attractive in the garden. It is found naturally on sandy to clay soils, in a range of habitats – so possibly hardy.

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

dorothea – named by Joseph Henry Maiden after his daughter Dorothy. Joseph Maiden (1859–1925) was an early Australian botanist who made a major contribution to knowledge of the Australian flora, especially the genera Acacia and Eucalyptus.

It has a restricted range but not known to be at risk of extinction in the wild.

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Acacia dorothea profile page

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

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke