Acacia echinula

Hedgehog wattle, Hooked wattle

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Mimosoideae

This multi-branched shrub typically grows to a height of 2 metres with hairy branchlets.

This species is found in eastern parts of NSW, mainly from around Nowra in the south, to Lake Macquarie, but also with some occurrences to Grafton in the north.

It is typically found on hills, slopes and plains in sandstone-based soils, in dry sclerophyll forest and woodland communities as well as heathlands.

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 cylindrical or 4-angled, to about 1 cm long, very sharply pointed, with one small gland at the base.

Up to 35 very small staminate flowers are produced in globular heads; bright, deep yellow in colour. The globular heads are produced singularly in the leaf axils (similarly to Acacia ulicifolia).

Seed pods are slightly to strongly curved and about 4 cm long.

In the garden

No cultivation information available. However, due to its prickly nature it would offer good protection for small birds in a garden situation. It may be more widely cultivated in the future.

It grows naturally on sandy soils on sandstone substrates and may need similar garden conditions to thrive.

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

echinula  Latin referring to the genus Echinus; a genus of sea urchins – referring to the spiky leaves of this species. The Greek for sea urchin is achinos (αχινος).

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

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

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

Plants of the Northern Beaches of Sydney – Gallery – Acacia echinula Image

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