Acacia filicifolia

Fern-leaved wattle

Family: Fabaceae subfam. Mimosoideae

Acacia filicifolia is an erect shrub or tree, growing to a height of 15 m.

It is mostly found on the coast and tablelands of New South Wales, into the western slopes/ It also grows in Qld. Usually found on sandy soils in dry sclerophyll woodlands and forests.

The trunk can have silvery/grey resin or wax along most of its length.

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 is in the group with compound – bipinnate foliage (Group 3), with leaves to about 15 cm long with between one and five prominent glands. The pinnae (groups of leaflets or pinnules) are to 8 cm long with individual pinnules very small and linear, about 1 cm long and less than 1 mm wide.

Like all bipinnate wattles, flowers are produced in globular heads which are about 5 to 6 mm in diameter with each head having up to 30 very small, staminate, bright yellow flowers. Flowers occurs from July to October.

The flat seed pods are to 13 cm long and about 2 cm wide.

In the garden

Not much is known about its cultivation potential. It would likely grow well, if desired, on a well-drained soil. It is an attractive wattle with its silvery-grey / blue trunk. It flowers very well.

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

Most bipinnate wattles will regenerate from seed after fire. This group does not tend to exhibit reshooting of trunks or branches after fire but may exhibit suckering from lateral roots and trunk bases.

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.

filicifolia – is derived from the Latin words filix meaning “fern” and folium meaning “a leaf” referring to the similarity of the leaves of this wattle to the fronds of some species of fern.

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

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

Wikipedia – Acacia filicifolia profile page                                     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acacia_filicifolia

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