Acacia terminalis

Sunshine wattle

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Mimosoideae

A variable plant in habit, ranging from a small shrub about 1 metre in height to a large shrub up to about 5 metres tall, often with an erect narrow habit.

It is widespread in open forest and woodland from northern New South Wales (just north of Torrington), through the coastal, tablelands and western slopes areas (west to about Dunedoo), extending soiuth mainly through the tablelands and coast; through eastern Victoria (as far west as around Ballarat) to Tasmania, where it grows mainly around the northern and eastern coasts.

It is found in dry sclerophyll woodland and forest as well as heathland and shrubland, usually on sandy and sandstone-based soils but sometimes on shale-enriched soils.

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 pale cream to bright yellow and very small staminate flowers are produced in globular heads, 7 to 12 mm in diameter, with each head or globe having up to 13 flowers, with the heads then grouped into conspicuous racemes or panicles which can be about 20 cm long all up; in autumn to mid-spring, depending on locality. This is a wattle known for its Autumn flowering.

Seed pods are flat, straight or curved, rough and often darker over seeds, 3.5 to 10 cm long and to 2 cm wide.

In the garden

An attractive garden plant that grows quickly and flowers within one or two years from seed. It is reliable in a range of soils but is reported to be short lived due to attack by borers.

This Editor has seen them growing well in council-landscapes and revegetation areas in the Sutherland Shire in southern Sydney. Observations have also been made of plants self-seeding in gardens and landscapes. It is a hardy species generally.

It is a wattle that flowers mostly in Autumn, so useful and attractive for that reason.

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

A. terminalis was previously known as A. botrycephala.

Four informal subspecies have been recognised, although there are additional hybrids, especially around Sydney:

A. terminalis subsp. angustifolia (now referred to as subsp. Glabrous Form) (Central Coast and South Coast).

A. terminalis subsp. aurea (now referred to as subsp. Bright Yellow Flowers) (Central Coast, Tablelands and Western Slopes).

A. terminalis subsp. longiaxialis (now referred to as subsp. Long Inflorescences) (Central Coast and North Coast)

A. terminalis subsp. terminalis: (now referred to as subsp. Eastern Sydney), is listed as an Endangered species under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. It is rare and confined to the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, between Cronulla and Manly.

Note: the current names for the subspecies indicate that formal names are yet to be published in a scientific journal.

This species regenerates from seed after fire.

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.

terminalis – Latin meaning “terminal” or “at the terminals”, possibly referring to the position of the globular heads on the branches.

A. terminalis subsp. terminalis: (subsp. Eastern Sydney), is listed as Endangered at both the State and Commonwealth level. The three other subspecies are not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Acacia terminalis profile page

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

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.