Acacia hispidula

Little Harsh Acacia, Rough-leaved Acacia, Rough Hairy-wattle.

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Mimosoideae

Acacia hispidula is an erect or spreading shrub to 2 m tall.

It has a disjunct distribution; in the south of NSW, it is found in coastal localities north from Nowra and is especially common in the Sydney region; then it is found further north from Coffs Harbour and inland as far as Brisbane in QLD.

Its habitat is chiefly dry sclerophyll woodland and forest communities on sandy 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.

The phyllodes are to 3 cm long and to 1 cm wide with a curved-elliptic shape. They have a hispid / rough to sometimes smooth texture (depending on the presence of tubercle-based hairs); mid to dark green in colour.

Flowers are produced in globular heads, to 8 mm in diameter, with each head having up to 20 flowers. Heads are produced in solitude in leaf axils, yellow to almost white in colour, January to April and often through the year.

The seed pods have an oblong to narrowly oblong shape but can be elliptic when containing a single seed. The pods are up to 5 cm long and to about 1 cm wide.

In the garden

This species is known to be cultivated. Not overly common in cultivation but it is known to be sold.

It is a hardy shrub. Fairly fast growing and frost tolerant.

Unusual phyllodes would make it an ideal rockery plant. The foliage makes for good contrast. Usually found on sandy soils so this may need to be replicated in a 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

May be confused with Acacia aspera which has longer and narrower phyllodes.

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.

hispidula – Latin diminutive of hispidus – meaning hispid (roughly-hairy) – refererring to the nature of the branchlets and phyllode margins having finer, short hairs or tubercles.

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

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

Wikipedia – Acacia hispidula profile page                                   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acacia_hispidula

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.