Acacia lanigera

Woolly Wattle or Hairy Wattle

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Mimosoideae

A rounded to spreading shrub to 2 m tall.

It is found naturally in NSW on the tablelands and western slopes of NSW, as well as the south coast, south from Coonabarabran-area. It extends into Victoria through the central part of the state down to Melbourne and Ballarat, but also grows disjunctly in the far north-eastern corner.

It grows in woodland and dry sclerophyll forest as well as sclerophyll shrublands, in poor gravelly and sandy soils in NSW.

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 narrow) to 6 cm long to 1 cm wide, rigid and with a sharp point (mucro).

Flowers are produced in globular heads, to 9 mm diameter with up to 30 very small, staminate flowers in each head; bright-yellow in colour. Heads are produced singularly or in groups of 2 to 4 in leaf axils, in May to October.

Seed pods are curved to openly coiled, raised over seeds, 10 cm long and to 0.6 cm wide.

In the garden

Adaptable in cultivation in a sunny, reasonably well drained positions in most soils

Frost hardy (will tolerate frosts to -7°C)

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 regenerate from seed after fire, with some species suckering from the bases.

Two varieties are currently recognised in NSW:

  • var lanigera which is most of the occurrence and has shorter peduncles (and possibly hairy) supporting the globular heads of flowers;
  • var gracilipes which only grows in the Wallagaraugh River area, NSW, down near the Victorian border (Timbillica and Yambulla State Forests) and likely in the north-eastern corner of Victoria. (This Editor has undertaken surveys in 2021 for this variety, after severe bushfires – only a few hundred plants were seen). It has longer peduncles without any hairs. It is considered a rare taxon.

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.

lanigera – Latin meaning “fleecy” – referring to the woolly covering of fine hairs (trichomes) on the plant.

This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild. However, the variety gracilipes is considered rare and possibly threatened with extinction.

Australian National Herbarium – Acacia lanigera profile page          http://www.anbg.gov.au/acacia/species/A-lanigera.html

NSW Flora Online – Acacia lanigera profile page

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.