Acacia subulata

Awl-leaf Wattle

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Mimosoideae

Acacia subulata grows into a 3-metre tall and erect shrub.

The Awl-leaf Wattle is a New South Wales species and grows mostly from the central-coast / tablelands junction, north through the central western slopes, northern tablelands and north-western slopes, from around the Capertee Valley, north through the Upper Hunter Valley and Dubbo, as far north as around Warialda.

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.

The phyllodes are narrow and about 10 centimetres long with a curved point. The foliage is light green in colour, which provides a contrast with other foliage in the garden.

The yellow, globular flower heads hold up to 20 very small staminate flowers. The heads are clustered into racemes of up to 11 in leaf axils and are carried for most of the year with prime flowering in Autumn and Winter.

Linear pods follow the flowers are about 100 millimetres long.

In the garden

Author’s notes: We are always on the lookout for acacias that flower out of the usual spring season. These “out of season” wattles bring a touch of spring to the gardens at other times of the year. This is one of the best of these “out of season” bloomers.

It can be used to make a hedge. We prune our specimens to keep them to a bushy height of about two metres.

It is known to be cultivated and is reported to be hardy once established. The combination of very long and fine foliage with lots of blooms make it very desirable. Found naturally on a variety of soils, so possibly tolerable of various substrates.


Propagate from seed (pre-treated with boiling water or scarification).

Other information

The type specimen of Acacia subulata, came from Malmaison, the garden of Napoleon and Josephine, near Paris. This wattle was described and illustrated in an early 1800’s book describing the rare plants growing at Malmaison. The original seed was probably collected by a French scientific expedition to Australia.

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.

subulata – Latin – “subulate” – a leaf which elongates and tapers gradually to a fine point. This wattle has leaves that look almost like pine-needles.

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

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

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

Atlas of Living Australia – Acacia subulata profile page   https://bie.ala.org.au/species/https://id.biodiversity.org.au/node/apni/2905816

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