Acacia genistifolia

Early Wattle, Spreading Wattle

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Mimosoideae

Acacia genistifolia is a prickly shrub growing to 3 m high with a spread to 1 metre or more.

In NSW, it is found naturally south from about Bathurst, west to Grenfell and Griffith, also recorded in the Warramgamba Catchment. It extends south through the tablelands and western slopes, as well as the south western plains. It is found through much of Victoria except for the north-west. It is also found in the eastern half of tasmania.

It is found in dry sclerophyll forests and woodlands generally and can occupy open regenerating shrublands.

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 (modified leaves) are rigid, needle-like to 40 mm long and about 3 mm wide with a sharp point. They are 4-angled in cross-section.

Flowers are produced in globular heads, up to 8 mm diameter which are solitary in the leaf axils; pale yellow to creamy-white, occurring in mid-autumn to spring. Each head can have up to 30 very small staminate flowers.

The seed pods are 5 cm long and 3 mm wide, curved and evenly constricted between the seeds.

In the garden

Not a large amount is known about its cultivation but reported to be cultivated (see resources). It is a prickly plant, so place in a suitable spot. Reported to be adaptable in a sunny position with well-drained soil. May provide shelter for small birds. Can flower profusely.

Frost hardy and suitable for low maintenance.

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 wattles regenerate from seed after fire with some species exhibiting suckering from the basal areas.

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.

genistifolia – has foliage resembling some species of the genus Genista – a genus of plants in the Fabaceae subfam. Faboideae family, referred to as “Brooms”.

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

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

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

Cardinia Indigenous Plant Guide – Acacia genistifolia profile page     https://www.cardinia.vic.gov.au/directory_record/1861/acacia_genistifolia_spreading_wattle

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 Dan Clarke