Acacia triptera

Spurwing Wattle

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Mimosoideae

This prickly species will grow into a spreading shrub about 2 metres tall and the same width.

This species occurs in NSW, mainly on the western slopes and western plains, north from around Griffith, growing commonly northwards to the border with a patchy occurrence, through the interior of Queensland to west of Mackay. It has a very limited occurrence in Victoria, growing mostly north-west of Wangaratta.

It grows in sandy and rocky heathland, shrubland and dry sclerophyll woodland. In some areas, it develops into impenetrable thickets. The prickly growth provides safe nesting sites for small native birds.

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 2.

The phyllodes are decurrent (where the base merges into the stem, giving a ribbed surface), flat, curved and crowned with a sharp point; to 5.5 cm long and 1 cm wide; green to blue-green in colour.

Very small and bright yellow staminate flowers are held in rod-shaped clusters, to 3 cm long. Usually, two rods/spikes are produced per leaf axil; covering plants in spring and carried for a number of weeks.

Pods are to 8 cm long by 0.4 cm wide and can be twisted / coiled.

In the garden

Author’s notes: In our cold climate garden (near Armidale), the Spurwing Wattle does not require pruning. Plants develop, without resorting to secateurs or pruning saws, into dense, colourful shrubs.

It is known to be cultivated.

Acacia triptera is considered too barbed and prickly for cultivation in suburban gardens. So plant with care and caution (the foliage is difficult to handle). It is a good choice for any barrier planting.

This species would be ideal for rural properties and incorporated in shelter belts and windbreaks.

It grows well on a sandy loam to clay-loam soil in full sun. It is a very showy wattle in flower and the foliage creates strong contrast. It is attractive to birds and for general habitat values.


Propagate from seed soaked in boiling water before sowing.

Other information

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.

triptera – Ancient Greek via Latin – tri meaning “three” (τρία) and ptera (πτερά) meaning “wings” – referring to the tri-winged shape of the phyllode bases.

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

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Acacia triptera profile page                    https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&photo=28&file=25/069/002866.jpg

Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.

Australian National Herbarium – Acacia triptera profile page            https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/gnp3/acacia-triptera.html

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