Acacia pravissima

Ovens Wattle

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Mimosoideae

A tree growing to 8 m tall and potentially 5 m wide.

It grows on the southern tablelands and western slopes of NSW, mainly south from the ACT, but with some records around Dubbo, extending into Victoria where it extends through the north-eastern parts as far as the Bendigo and Geelong areas.

It grows in sclerophyll forests and woodland, in clays and sandy loams on riverbanks, hillslopes and ridges.

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).

Phyllodes (modified leaves) are grey-green to blue-green and somewhat short and triangular, to about 1.5 cm long and wide with a sharp point (mucro).

Flowers are produced in globular heads, to 5 mm in diameter, with up to 10 very small staminate flowers per head. The heads are clustered into racemes, up to 15 in each raceme in leaf axils. The flowers are bright yellow, showy and produced in spring. The flowers also have a light scent.

Seed pods straight to slightly curved, to 8 cm long and less than 1 cm wide.

In the garden

This species has a history of being cultivated and it is grown by some Sutherland and other APS members at least. It is hardy and easy to grow. It can be pruned into different shapes. It can tolerate long dry periods. It needs some room to spread. Plant in a full sun or part sun position. Known to be cultivated in the USA and UK. Give a well-drained soil for best results. Very showy in flower and the architectural nature of the foliage is very unusual.

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 will regenerate from seed after fire with some species exhibiting suckering from the base.

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.

pravissima – Latin for “perverted”, “crooked”, “distorted” or deformed”, which apparently refers to the irregular branching or the plant.

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

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

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

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