Acacia fimbriata

Fringed Wattle

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Mimosoideae

Acacia fimbriata is naturally found in the coast and tablelands areas of NSW, as far south as Bega and north to Queensland. However, it does naturalise very easily outside its range from plantings. In Queensland, it is found all the way up to Mackay and the Cairns area. It is a weed in Victoria.

It grows in open eucalypt woodlands and forests on hillsides, preferring well drained, moist sandy loams.

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 plant belongs to Group 1.

The phyllodes are thin, linear and light green, to about 5 cm long by about 5 mm wide.

In spring plants are attractively covered with pale yellow, perfumed flowers in globular heads with up to 20 flowers per head. The heads are produced in racemes of up to 25 in leaf axils.

Pods are to 10 cm long by about 1 cm wide.

In the garden

Author’s notes: Warren Sheather

The growth habit, foliage and flowers are all attractive features.

Acacia fimbriata has proved to be frost tolerant and drought resistant in our cold climate garden.

We prune our specimens annually to keep them bushy, at tall shrub height and flowering profusely. It develops into a bushy shrub and if left unpruned will easily reach the height of a small tree, up to 7 metres.

It is a very popular garden wattle historically; plants can be pruned to form very dense shrubs – it can be used as a hedge if desired. Or, they can be allowed to grow taller with yearly light pruning creating better flowering and denser plants. Very hardy once established.

It does have a tendency to spread into bushland where it doesn’t belong (such as Sydney sandstone ridgetops). So watch out for this if growing it close to bushland areas. It is a weed in Victoria.

There are also attractive dwarf cultivars. One is known as ‘Crimson Blush’ and has bronze tipped foliage.

Author’s notes: Jeff Howes

My plant has been growing in my northern Sydney garden, in clay soils for over 10 years. As a street tree, it is very healthy and flowers each year in August to early September, even though the soil and water conditions here are far from ideal for this plant.

It is approximately 6 metres tall by about 5 metres wide with slightly pendant branches forming a bushy crown. It has profuse small yellow, scented ball-shaped flowers followed by pod-like fruit. In winter 2012, it flowered at its best for a long time probably due to the good rainfall Sydney received that year.

I am also growing a few of the dwarf form of Acacia fimbriata. This is a compact shrub growing to 2.5 metres tall by 1.6 metres wide with a slight weeping habit. The attractive green foliage and new growth of this plant lets me use it as a feature plant – for great landscaping effect. I prune one of my dwarf plants heavily each year i.e. to within 30cms of the ground to make it more compact, and this seems to have no ill effects.

Acacia fimbriata and the dwarf form of this plant are fast growing, nitrogen-fixing, frost hardy (will tolerate frosts to -7 C) plants which are suitable for hedging or screening. King Parrots and Crimson Rosellas love eating the seeds and the pollen is utilised by bees. They also require little water once established.

I have found both plants to be long lived and can recommend growing them for their foliage and perfume when flowering. Another reason for growing this plant is to have them flowering on September 1, which is the official Wattle Day, something we all should be celebrating (well I think so) as it has a long and proud history.


Propagate the ‘normal’ form from seed and cuttings. The dwarf forms must be propagated from cuttings to maintain the desirable growth habit.

Other information

Acacia fimbriata is known as the Fringed Wattle because of the microscopic hairs along the phyllodes.

Most wattles will die in a fire and regenerate from seed. Some species exhibit suckering from basal parts and roots.

The specimen chosen for the type was collected by Alan Cunningham in southern Queensland in 1832.

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.

fimbriata Latin – fimbria meaning “fringe”; referring to the fringe of hairs near the base of the leaves (phyllodes).

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

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

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

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