Acacia ixiophylla

Sticky Wattle

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Mimosoideae

Acacia ixiophylla, Sticky Wattle, is a medium, upright shrub, potentially reaching 5 metres tall by several metres wide.

It occurs naturally on the central and northern tablelands, western slopes, of NSW (north from around Capertee and Glen Davis), extending into Queensland, where it grows generally through the inland-central areas as far as to the west of Townsville.

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 sticky and about 30 millimetres long by 6 millimetres wide. There is a gland near the base of each phyllode.

Bright yellow to deep yellow, very small staminate flowers appear in spring, arranged in globular heads with 35 flowers in each head. Heads are produced in 2s or 3s in the phyllode axils.

Flowers are followed by slightly curved sticky pods that are up to 7 cm long.


In the garden

This is a useful shrub to include in shrubberies and hedges. Acacia ixiophylla is frost tolerant and, once established, has low water requirements. It is known to be cultivated, especially in inland areas. It may be short-lived but will put on a wondrous display when mature. Give a well-drained soil. Foliage, flowers and pods are all attractive features.


Propagate from seed or cuttings. Seed should be soaked in boiling water before sowing.

Other information

The type specimen was collected by Alan Cunningham on the Liverpool Plains, NSW in the mid 1800’s.

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.

ixiophylla – from the Greek ixos / iksos (ἰξός) meaning “any sticky substance” as well as “mistletoe”, and –phylla (φύλλα) meaning “leaves” – referring to the sticky leaves of this species. (This Editor wonders is this is the root of words like ‘sticky’ and ‘icky’?).

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

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

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

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

By Warren and Gloria Sheather. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke.