Acacia myrtifolia

Myrtle Wattle

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Mimosoideae

A bushy shrub growing to 2 metres high by about 1 m wide.

It is a widespread shrub that occurs along the coastal fringe, extending into inland areas in NSW (Central Tablelands) with a similar pattern of distribution in all mainland States, except the Northern Territory.

It is usually found on sandy substrates and sandstone in heathlands, shrublands (including mallee-shrublands), as well as dry sclerophyll woodland and forest.

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 species belongs to Group 1.

Leaves (phyllodes) are mid to dark-green, elliptic to obovate to oblanceolate, to about 9 cm long and 3 cm wide with a mucro (small sharp tip).

Very small staminate flowers occur in globular heads (up to 13 mm in diameter), of up to 8 flowers per head, arranged in racemes in the leaf axils with up to 16 heads per raceme, bright light-yellow (lemon) to mid-yellow, produced in winter to spring.

Pods to 11 cm long and to 0.5 cm wide, brittle and woody.

In the garden

Acacia myrtifolia requires little or no maintenance as they have no real pests or diseases (an ideal plant). After flowering the plant should be given a light prune to keep compact and prevent it getting ‘leggy’.

Author’s note: My plant has been growing in my northern Sydney suburb garden in clay soils for over 10 years and in this time has only grown to a height of 1.5 metres. In winter 2012, it flowered at its best for a long time probable due to the good rainfall Sydney has received.

It prefers full sun to light shade and a well-drained soil. Plants can suffer in poorly drained soils.


Propagation is relatively easy by normal seed raising methods following pretreatment by soaking in boiling water or by scarification. Propagation from cuttings has also been successful. I am going to raise a few more of these plants after it sets seeds as they are an attractive winter flowering plant that i would a few more off.

Other information

Interestingly, it was one of the earliest plants described in the colony, having been illustrated by James Sowerby (21 March 1757 – 25 October 1822) who was an English naturalist and illustrator. Acacia myrtifolia was also one of the earliest plants bought into cultivation in Europe.

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.

myrtifolia – having foliage similar to the genus Myrtus – the European Myrtle.

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

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

Yarra Ranges Council – Local Plant Directory – Acacia myrtifolia profile page https://www.yarraranges.vic.gov.au/PlantDirectory/Shrubs/Shurbs-1.5-10-metres/Acacia-myrtifolia

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.