Acacia elata

Cedar Wattle, Mountain Cedar Wattle

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Mimosoideae

Acacia elata is a long-lived wattle-tree, potentially reaching 30m, with a dense conical to medium domed canopy.

It is endemic to coastal areas of New South Wales from the Budawang Range in the south as afar as the Bellinger River in the north growing in rainforest and wet sclerophyll forests. It is considered a weed in Qld, Vic and WA.

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).

It is thought that Groups 1 and 2 are more highly evolved than Group 3.

This species is of Group 1: It has dark green compound-bipinnate (jacaranda-type) evergreen leaves to 30-35 cm long. The groups of leaflets (pinnae) can be up to 25 cm long (at right angles to the main leaf axis) with individual leaflets (pinnules) to 6 cm long and about 1 cm wide. Hence, the tree projects large leaves and dense shade.

Acacia spp. produce small 5-merous flowers, with 5 very small petals partly-fused into a short tube which sits above a fused calyx. The stamens are the main feature which are produced in high numbers per flower (staminate flowers), surrounding a single style. In this species, blooms are produced between December and February producing flowers in globular heads about 1 cm in diameter, with each head having up to 55 very small staminate flowers, yellow to cream in colour. The globular heads are clustered in secondary inflorescences (panicles or racemes) which are produced in leaf axils and interspersed between leaves.

The fruit are straight, flat seed pods that form after flowering have a length to 17 cm and a width to 1.5 cm.

In the garden

This is an attractive, reasonably long-lived tree, with attractive foliage that is sometimes seen cultivated in large gardens in shady situations. It will be shorter and more compact in full sun.

It prefers a deep fertile soil with reliable moisture.

Best to train to a single leader and may need crown lifting if grown as a street tree.

It is known to escape from gardens and is considered as a weed in wetter regions in the south-west of Western Australia. It has naturalised in parts of Victoria, WA, NZ, southern Africa and California.

Good for a large garden or park, planted for shade or as part of a shelter belt. Also a good habitat tree.

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.

Other information

Available and grown in California, USA and many other countries. The timber is attractive, close-grained, strong and hard, and is suitable for carpentry and turning.

Not likely to be overly affected by fires in its natural habitat but likely regenerates from seed.

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.

elata – Latin. refers to its tall, tree-like habit (elated – reaching a high level).

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

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

Wikipedia – Acacia elata profile page                                                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acacia_elata

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 Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke.