Acacia glaucoptera

Flat Wattle or Clay Wattle

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Mimosoideae

Acacia glaucoptera is a prostrate to semi-prostrate shrub growing to 1.2 metres tall and to 2 metres wide.

It is endemic to Western Australia, growing naturally north of Albany and east to Esperance, on a latitude south of Perth.

It grows in shrubland, mallee and tall shrubland communities on gravelly clay to lateritic soils.

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.

Phyllodes (modified leaves) are continuous with the branches which give the shrub a winged appearance and generates much interest. They are to 7 cm long and 2 cm wide which much of it fused to the branch, and with each phyllode virtually connecting to the next one. They are blue-green in colour and taper to a fine point (mucro). The new growth can be purple-red.

Flowers produced in globular heads, to 6 mm in diameter, with up to 80 very small staminate flowers per head. The heads are produced solitarily in phyllode axils. The flowers are bright yellow, showy and produced in spring.

Seed pods straight, oblong to linear, to 5 cm long and about 0.4 cm wide.

In the garden

This wattle is very common in cultivation. The nature of the foliage makes it very desirable with its winged and pointy phyllodes.

It does need regular pruning to keep it growing densely and promoting the new red-purple growth.

Grow in full sun or dappled shade. Needs a well-drained soil to do well. Give an open position – such as a shrubby garden.

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 will regenerate from seed after fire with some species exhibiting suckering from the base.

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.

glaucoptera – translates to “blue-green wings”- from Greek – glauco (γλαυκο) meaning “blue-green” and ptero (πτέρo) meaning “wing” or “feather”, referring to the appearance of the blue-green phyllodes appearing like wings.

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

Kings Park and Botanic Gardens – Native Plant Notes – Acacia glaucoptera https://www.bgpa.wa.gov.au/images/horticulture/docs/pn_acacia_glaucoptera.pdf

Gardening with Angus – Acacia glaucoptera profile page              https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/acacia-glaucoptera-clay-wattle/

Western Australian Herbarium – Florabase – The Western Australian Flora                                          Acacia glaucoptera profile page                                    https://florabase.dpaw.wa.gov.au/browse/profile/3349

By Dan Clarke