Acacia gordonii

Gordon’s Wattle

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Mimosoideae

Acacia gordonii is a shrub potentially reaching 1.5 m tall, with narrow stems forming the spread of the plant.

It has a very limited natural distribution in the wild, restricted to New South Wales between Bilpin in the north, to Faulconbridge in the south in the foothills of the Blue Mountains.

It grows in dry sclerophyll forest and heath on sandstone outcrops  It is a listed threatened species in the wild.

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) alternate or sometimes irregularly whorled or clustered, to 1.5 cm long and only 0.1 cm wide, mid to dark green in colour.

Flowers are produced in globular heads, to 8 mm in diameter. Each head can have up to 35 very small, staminate flowers, deep golden yellow in colour. Heads are produced solitarily in leaf axils, between August and September.

Pods are straight or flat, to about 6 cm long and 1.5 cm wide

In the garden

This species is not commonly cultivated but is available. Sutherland members have sourced them from regional meetings – see Youtube video link: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJ2sPlGcT4w). It is threatened with extinction and so may be hard to source. Grows well in pots.

It grows on skeletal sandstone soils and on sandstone platforms so this may need to be replicated in a garden for successful growth.

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

This species may be confused with A. baueri subsp. aspera which has sessile (no peduncle) flower heads.

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

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.

gordonii – named in Honour of Eric Gifford Gordon about who not much is known but who apparently found the plant near Bilpin in 1961.

A. gordonii is listed as threatened and classified endangered under both NSW and Commonwealth legislation.

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

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

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