Acacia suaveolens

Sweet wattle

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Mimosoideae

A typically sparse and leggy shrub growing from 0.3 to 2.5 m high, with a narrow spread.

It occurs from southern Queensland, down the east coast of NSW and Victoria, into Tasmania and South Australia.

It grows in dry sclerophyll forests, woodlands and heathlands, in coastal areas of low altitude ranging from low coastal secondary dunes up to an altitude of 300 m. It is typically found on sandy soil or sandstone.

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 (resemble leaves) are straight or slightly curving blue-green coloured 5–15 cm long and to 1 cm wide.

The globular flower heads are to 7 mm in diameter, with up to 10 very small staminate flowers per head. The heads are arranged in racemes in the leaf axils. Flowers are pale yellow to near white, and generally appear between April and September. The flowers are also pleasantly odorous.

Seed-pods are flattened, bluish near rectangular pods which are up to 5 cm long and 2 cm wide. The pods are a very attractive feature with their oblong shape.

In the garden

It is one of the earliest flowering of the wattles (April to September) and provides winter colour in a garden. Makes an interesting garden plant with its attractive coloured phyllodes, its long flowering period and perfumed flowers. It is salt-spray tolerant as well as frost and drought tolerant. It is not a dense shrub, being rather spindly, but it can be pruned to promote more flowering branches.

Prefers to grow in sand and this author has found it will not grow in heavy/clay soils easily.

This species is known to be toxic to stock.

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

Similar to the South Australian species Acacia iteaphylla which is a more bushy shrub.

Regenerates from seed in large numbers after fire, usually quickly.

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.

suaveolens – Latin – meaning “sweet-smelling”, referring to the odorous flowers.

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

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

Wikipedia – Acacia suaveolens profile page                              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acacia_suaveolens

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.