Acacia howittii

Howitts Wattle, Sticky Wattle

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Mimosoideae

A shrub to potential tree, growing to 9 m tall and up to 5 m wide.

It is naturally restricted to Victoria, growing in the southern Gippsland hills, between Yarram and Tarra Valley. It is not considered to be threatened and has been observed naturalising outside its natural range. It grows in wet and dry sclerophyll forests.

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 narrowly-elliptic to lanceolate, to 3 cm long and about 1 cm wide, and dark green and very sticky to touch.

Flowers are produced in globular heads, to 3 mm in diameter, with up to 20 very small staminate flowers per head. The heads produced solitarily on in pairs in leaf axils. The flowers are bright yellow, showy and produced in spring.

Seed pods straight, oblong to linear, to 6 cm long and about 0.5 cm wide.

In the garden

Very common in cultivation. It has a graceful, weeping habit, which can be pruned to promote density, which makes it desirable. Can be used as a screen plant or hedge to very good effect. Hardy in a wide range of soils. It is advised to plant them out of tubestock. Prune to create density and desirable form. Be considerate when planting as it is known to naturalise in bushland.

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

There is a dense small cultivar called “Honey Bun” (see references)

Most wattles will regenerate from seed after fire with some species exhibiting suckering 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.

howittii – named in honour of Dr Alfred William Howitt (1830-1908), an English explorer and botanist

This species is not considered to be at risk in the wild. It has been observed naturalising in other parts of Victoria.

Australian National Herbarium – Acacia howittii profile page           http://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/gnp10/acacia-howittii.html

VICFlora (Flora of Victoria Online) – Acacia howittii profile page https://vicflora.rbg.vic.gov.au/flora/taxon/f9d0ac14-065c-462d-a5f5-565343ef3761

Gardening with Angus – Acacia howittii profile page           https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/acacia-honey-bun-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