Acacia rubida

Red-stemmed Wattle, Red Leaf Wattle

Family: Fabaceae Subfamily Mimosoideae

A bushy shrub or tree to 10 metres high. It is often seen as a shrub, mostly single-stemmed.

It grows mainly within the coastal and tablelands subdivisions of NSW, extending into the western slopes; also growing in eastern Victoria and only slightly into south-east Queensland.

It is often a part of open dry sclerophyll woodland or dry sclerophyll forest communities and grows on rocky hilltops and slopes in rocky soils. It can often be seen on road and track-sides in bushland areas.

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 (modified leaves) are narrowly elliptic to oblanceolate, reddish to grey-green, to 20 cm long and to 2.5 cm wide. The juvenile bipinnate-foliage can persist on older plants.

Up to 15 very small staminate flowers, pale to bright yellow, are produced in each globular head which are to 7 mm diameter. The heads are clustered in racemes of up to 30 in leaf axils, occurring between July and November.

Pods are straight and flat, to 12 cm long and are about 1 cm wide.

In the garden

Generally adaptable in cultivation preferring a sunny, reasonably well-drained positions in most soils. Very hardy and frost tolerant.

It has a history of being used in regeneration and rehabilitation including seeding roadsides after roadworks.

A very useful wattle for drier gardens. It is often sold at local native nurseries.

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

It is often confused with Acacia amoena and related to A. nana.

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.

rubida – from Latin rubidus – meaning “red”, referring to the usually reddish colour of the phyllodes, especially noticeable on drying specimens.

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

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

Wikipedia – Acacia rubida profile page                                        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acacia_rubida

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

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.