Acacia floribunda

Sally Wattle, Gossamer Wattle

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Mimosoideae

Acacia floribunda is a small tree / large shrub growing to 8 m tall. It is widespread in forests and woodlands in the sub-tropical and warmer temperate regions of eastern Australia from Victoria to Queensland.

It grows mainly in coastal eucalypt woodland communities in the coastal and tablelands subdivisions (i.e. in wet and dry sclerophyll forests) and is most commonly found in alluvial soils along watercourses.

It has naturalised in South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia.

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 2.

Phyllodes (modified leaves) are narrowly elliptic to linear, straight or slightly curved, to 15 cm long and 1 cm wide.

The flower spikes, consisting of many staminate flowers can be up to 8 cm long, with 1 or more produced in leaf axils and pale yellow in colour.

Seed pods are straight to strongly curved, raised over and constricted between seeds, to 12 cm long and 0.4 cm wide.

In the garden

Cultivated extensively and suitable for most sunny situations as it is quick growing hence its suitability as a hedge or screen plant. As well, it is useful for controlling erosion, especially in gullies.

Will withstand frosts to -7°C.

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.

Some people are allergic to A. floribunda pollen.


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

There is a dwarf form growing less than one metre and is sold as Acacia floribunda ‘Little Flori’.

Most wattles regenerate from seed after fire. Some species can sucker from basal parts.

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.

floribunda – Latin – referring to its floriferous or free-flowering nature.

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

Australian National Herbarium – Acacia floribunda profile page         http://www.anbg.gov.au/acacia/species/A-floribunda.html

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Acacia floribunda profile page

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.