Acacia verniciflua

Varnish Wattle

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Mimosoideae

A variable shrub growing to 4 m high; generally erect and sparsely branched.

It has a very large natural geographic range; growing in dry sclerophyll woodland and forest in South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. In NSW, it is mainly found on the tablelands and western slopes, occurring mostly between Tamworth and Albury and west to Dubbo and Griffith; with some disjunct patches west of Armidale and further north. The range ends south of Warwick in Queensland. It grows through most of Victoria, west to around Horsham. Then there is a disjunction to the Adelaide- region.

It is found in dry sclerophyll woodland and forest, often on rocky creeks as well as ridges on very shallow 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 species belongs to Group 1.

It is a very variable species.

Phyllodes are a range of shapes and can vary from 2 to 12 cm long, and to 2.5 cm wide and are usually shiny or viscid-resinous.

Very small staminate flowers are produced in globular heads with up to 60 flowers per head. Heads can be produced in up to clusters of 3 in leaf axils or in racemes up to 6; pale yellow to bright yellow and appear from July to November.

The pods are up to 10 cm long and unconstricted.

In the garden

A hardy plant in cultivation and grows best in full sun in reasonably well drained positions in most soils. The phyllodes and fruits have a viscid sheen which gives some character. An attractive wattle.

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

Seeds and pods have historically being used as a food source by First Nations People of 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.

verniciflua – Latin meaning “varnish-flow” (vernicus – meaning “varnish” and flua – meaning “flow”) referring to the phyllodes, fruit and branches having a viscid texture and varnished appearance (which is more noticeable in fresh material compared to dried specimens).

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

Australian National Herbarium – Acacia verniciflua profile page          http://www.anbg.gov.au/acacia/species/A-verniciflua.html

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Acacia verniciflua profile page

Wikipedia – Acacia verniciflua profile page                               https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acacia_verniciflua

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.