Acacia spectabilis

Mudgee Wattle

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Mimosoideae

Acacia spectabilis is a tall spindly shrub or small tree with arching branches, growing to potentially more than 5 metres.

It occurs naturally, on the central and northern western slopes of NSW, mainly from Grenfell-Cowra, to Wee-Waa but with scattered records outside ths range. It extends into Queensland, mainly to around Mitchell and Wandoan.

It is often found on sandy soils, usually in dry sclerophyll woodland, callitris-scrub and habitats like the Pilliga Scrub.

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 3.

The bipinnate leaves have pinnules or segments in four to eight pairs. The individual pinnules are mostly blue, oblong in shape, to about 15 mm long and 7 mm wide.

Up to 35 very small staminate flowers are produced in globular heads. Each head contains 20-35 individual flowers. The heads are held in long racemes. Flowering is prolific from late winter to spring.

Mudgee Wattle occurs in the Central and North-western Slopes of NSW and southern Queensland.

In the garden

A. spectabilis makes a colourful addition, as a background plant, in native shrubberies. It is a very attractive plant in spring with its blue foliage on arching branches and bright yellow flowers. It is usually found on sandy or gravel-soils and so may need this to thrive. Plants could be strategically and carefully pruned to create a denser shrub with more flowers.

It may be short-lived, to 7 years, but will give plenty of show in that time.


Propagate from seed that should be soaked in boiling water before sowing.

Other information

The common name refers to a town in the Central West of NSW.

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.

spectabilis – Latin meaning “attractiveness” – referring to “spectacle” – the very showy flowering display of this species.

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

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

Australian National Herbarium – Acacia spectabilis profile page          https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/gnp2/acacia-spectabilis.html

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