Cootamundra Wattle

Acacia baileyana F.Muell.

Synonyms -

Family: - Mimosaceae


Acacia was the name of a thorny Egyptian tree.

Baileyana celebrates F.M. Bailey who collected it from cultivation in Bowen Park in Brisbane in1876.

Cootamundra is the name of the district in NSW where it occurs naturally

Wattle comes from British settlers making wattle and daub buildings using Callicoma serratifolia branches which was then called Black Wattle and is similar to the other Acacias of the area.

Other Names:



Cootamundra Wattle is a bushy shrub or small tree, 3-10 m high with smooth grey to brown bark and silvery to blue-grey foliage. The main leaf axis is 10-25(30) mm long and has 2-6 pairs of branches with the lowest pair being smaller and usually embracing the stem. Each of these side axes is divided into 8-24 pairs of small leaflets. The leaflets are 5-8 mm long and 0.7-1.6 mm wide and hairless. The bright golden, globular flower heads are 7 mm across and arranged in large 8 to 30-headed fragrant sprays. The seed pods are flat, 3-10 cm long and 8-15 mm wide. Native to New South Wales, Cootamundra Wattle is widely cultivated and now a weed of roadsides and woodland. It flowers from June to September.




First leaves:

Alternate. Many leaflets.


Stiffly spreading, short, compact, silvery to blue grey sometimes tinged with purple, alternate leaves with leaflets that have leaflets (bipinnate). The main axis (rachis) is 20-40 mm long with 2-6(8) pairs of leaflets (pinnae) that are 10-35 mm long and these carry 10-24 pairs of sub leaflets (pinnules) that are set close together, oblong, curved and 3-9 mm long by 1-1.6 mm wide with a faint mid nerve. The lower pair of leaflets are shorter and embrace the stem. Overall the leaf tends to be somewhat curled. Tiny hairs on blades and stalks often becoming hairless by maturity. There are glands at the base of the upper leaflets (jugary glands).

Stipules - Papery or spiny.

Petiole - 2-5 mm long.

Blade - of sub leaflets are 3-9 mm long by 1-1.6 mm wide, flat with parallel sides and acutely to obtusely tipped. Base tapered.


Smooth brown bark on trunk. Up to 10 m tall. Branchlets silvery grey to light green becoming brown with age, angular or flattened with a waxy look and hairless or with stiff spreading hairs especially when young.

Flower head:

Fragrant, yellow and showy in long sprays with 8-30 globular heads about 7 mm diameter with 15-25 small flowers. Borne at the ends of branches or from the leaf axils in racemes and panicles. The axis is 50-100 mm long and the flower stalks (peduncles) are 4-7 mm long and hairless.


Bisexual, small, often with a small bract at the base. Radially arranged floral segments of similar size (actinomorphic).

Ovary - Usually stalkless, many ovules. Hairless.

Style - Threadlike.

Calyx - 5. Shortly triangular lobed with scattered hairs.

Petals - 5, usually free. Hairless.

Stamens - Many, free, stick out from the flower.

Anthers - All fertile, 2 celled, opening by a lengthwise slit.


Young pods bluish grey becoming brown to black with age. Pods straight to slightly curved, flattish, 40-100(120) mm long by 8-15 mm wide, not constricted between the seeds. Sometimes it has a waxy bloom. Seeds are lengthwise in the pod

Usually drops seed when ripe by opening 2 valves and the pod cases usually fall to the ground soon after.

Up to 12 seeds per pod.


Dark brown to black. Usually somewhat flattened or angular and oval to cylindrical. (4)6-8 mm long by 2-4 mm diameter. Surface smooth, shiny, minutely dimpled and hairless. Funicle white to tan, short and threadlike thickening to an aril near the seed.


Taproot with many branching and mainly shallow laterals.

Key Characters:

Leaves bipinnate, silver grey and minutely pubescent. 2-5 pairs of pinnae, 20-35mm long, the lowest pair shorter and embracing the stem.

Pinnae with more than 10 pairs of pinnules.

Pinnules less than 2mm wide and 3-10 mm long with a dull blue green colour and whitish bloom.

Very short petiole.

Interjugary glands absent.

Flower heads on extended axillary or terminal racemes or panicles.

Inflorescence 4-5 times the length of the leaf rachis.

Flowers bisexual, actinomorphic, small, numerous, in a globular head or cylindrical spike.

Sepals more than 2 or absent.

Ovary superior.

Stamen all free, more than 10, usually < 0.5 mm long, white cream yellow or orange yellow.

Filaments conspicuous.

Seeds in a pod.

Adapted from Nancy Burbidge, Flora of the ACT & Gwen Harden Flora of NSW..


Life cycle:

Perennial. Fast growing and reaches sexual maturity in 2-4 years but has a relatively short life span of around 20 years.


Hardy and fast growing.

Tolerates drought and frost to -100C.

Fixes atmospheric nitrogen.

Tolerates coastal conditions.

Grows in full sun to partial shade.


By seed. Some hybrids form suckers.

Flowering times:

June to September in WA.

June to Sept in NSW and SE Australia and occasionally in summer.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Produces large amounts of seed.

Seed is often dormant for more than 10 years and may require fire for full germination.

Vegetative Propagules:


There are two coloured leaf forms Purpurea and Aurea and a prostrate form that are sold in nurseries. The Purple leaf form has already naturalised.

Commonly hybridises with Black Wattle (Acacia decurrens) and the hybrids appear more sensitive to insect galls than either parent.

Hybridises with Acacia dealbata which has the leaf form of A. baileyana but with more than 12 pinnae with the lowest pair pointing back toward the stem and the suckering habits of A. dealbata.

It also forms hybrids with Acacia leucoclada.


Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Spread by seed. Ants and wind spread the seed over short distances. Intentional planting is the main form of long distance spread. Water flows, soil movement, birds and mammals move seed over intermediate distances.

It can form thick stands and change the nitrogen status of the soil. This encourages introduced grasses such as Wild Oats and Brome Grass to establish in the understorey which further reduces recruitment and establishment of local native plants.

Origin and History:

Australia. Native to a few mountainous areas in NSW and around Cootamundra.

Introduced in SA. Escaped from gardens in other states.

Widely sold in nurseries.



New Zealand, South Africa, USA.

Courtesy Australia's Virtual Herbarium.


Eucalypt woodlands.


Prefers higher rainfall areas with more than 400 mm rainfall.


Prefers acid soils derived from granite and porphyry parent rock and a range of other soils but avoids waterlogged areas.

Loam over granite.

Plant Associations:

Jarrah forests, Mallee communities, heathlands, dry sclerophyll forests, woodlands, and lowland grassland.



Ornamentals, wind breaks, gums, dyes, fuel, honey, and pollen.

Produces large amounts of pollen.

Timber is of little use except for firewood.

Light brown spiders use expended seed cases for nests.


Weed of bushland, Pine plantations, riparian areas and roadsides. Especially around the Manjimup district and Darling Ranges in WA.

Forms dense colonies that shade out most other species.


Generally, Acacias cause few problems to stock grazing amongst them.



Remove stock if ill health due to grazing is suspected.



Management and Control:

Picloram, Garlon and glyphosate are used for chemical control as overall sprays, stem injection, cut stump or topical application to trunk.

Use Garlon 480 at 1:400 and Roundup CT at 1:200 as an overall spray for control of juvenile trees and 2 L/ha Garlon 480 for control of seedlings.

2 L/ha of Roundup (360 g/L) controls seedlings in autumn winter and spring but 4 L/ha was required for late summer applications.

Fire destroys the mature trees but led to a mass germination of seedlings. However if these seedlings are controlled it very quickly reduces the seed bank in the soil. Seedlings tend not establish in mature stands.

A long term control plan is usually required for success.

Target areas that have been recently burnt because these will be more prone to invasion and the seed bank will be reduced due to the fire induced germination of seed.

Don't plant near bushland.


Eradication strategies:

It will take several years to control the infestation and exhaust the soil seed bank.

1) In large dense stands a hot fire may be used to kill old trees and encourage seed to germinate so that it may controlled by herbicides and reduce the soil seed bank.

2) Apply herbicides in spring.

3) For mature or juvenile trees, apply a mixture of 1 L of Access in 60 L of diesel to the lower 500 mm of the trunk or inject the stems with 1 mL Tordon Timber Control herbicide per 1.5 metres of height. Repeat in 6 months if necessary.

4) For seedlings, apply 4 L/ha of glyphosate (450 g/L) or spray until just wet with a mixture of 100 mL of glyphosate (450 g/L) per 10 L of water.

5) For juvenile trees, spray a mixture of 100 mL of glyphosate (450 g/L) plus 25 mL Pulse Penetrant per 10 L of water onto the foliage until just wet. A concentrated mix of 1 part glyphosate with 2 parts water can also be applied using a window washer bottle. Apply about 3 mL of this solution per square metre of foliage. Lontrel®750 at 2 kg/ha may provide more selective control in some situations.

6) Avoid further burning or denuding the area as this will encourage seedling establishment.

7) Repeat treatment every second year to ensure that no trees reach an age where they can set seed.

Small plants up to 1 m tall can be easily hand pulled. Larger ones tend to break off and regrow.

If cutting young plants spray cut stumps with 1 L Access in 60 L diesel. Older trees with a trunk diameter of more than 100 mm tend not to regrow after cutting, ringbarking or bulldozing.

A large number of seedlings often emerge in the season after felling, burning or spraying. If these are left the infestation may become worse. Follow up every 2-3 years to ensure no trees reach an age where they set seed.

If glyphosate is not providing good control then try Garlon®, Grazon®, Hotshot®, Starane® or clopyralid(300g/L). Test various times of treatment in your area. Avoid further burning or denuding of the area as this will encourage seedling establishment.

Don't buy or plant them in gardens outside their native range in NSW.

Herbicide resistance:

None reported.

Biological Control:

Unlikely because it is an Australian native species.

Related plants:

See A key for weedy Acacias and similar native species

There are more than 500 native Acacia species in WA.

Weedy and look-alike species include

Acacia Hedge (Acacia paradoxa). Noxious weed.

Black Wattle (Acacia decurrens) Bark used for tanning.

Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon) Bark used in tanning.

Blakely's Wattle (Acacia blakelyi) Used in revegetation.

Brigalow (Acacia harpophylla)

Burrow's Wattle (Acacia burrowii)

Caterpillar Wattle (Acacia lasiocalyx) Used in revegetation.

Cedar Wattle (Acacia elata) Ornamental

Chisholm's Wattle (Acacia chisholmii)

Coast Myall (Acacia binervia) is toxic to stock.

Cootamundra Wattle (Acacia baileyana) Ornamental

Curracabah (Acacia concurrens)
Currawong (Acacia sparsiflora)
Cutch Tree (Acacia cutechu) Noxious weed.

Deane's Wattle (Acacia deanei)

Dwarf Silver Wattle (Acacia nano-dealbata)

Flinders Ranges Wattle (Acacia iteaphylla)

Gidgee (Acacia cambagei)

Georgina Gidgee (Acacia georginae) is toxic to stock.

Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha)

Golden-wreath Wattle (Acacia saligna) Used in revegetation.

Gosford Wattle (Acacia prominens) Ornamental

Green Wattle (Acacia mearnsii) Bark used in tanning.

Hop Mulga (Acacia craspedocarpa)

Manna Wattle (Acacia microbotrya) Used in revegetation.

Mimosa bush (Acacia farnesiana)

Motherumbah (Acacia cheelii)

Mountain Cedar Wattle (Acacia elata)

Mulga (Acacia aneura) Used for fodder.

Prickly Acacia (Acacia nilotica). Noxious weed.

Prickly Moses (Acacia pulchella)

Queensland Silver Wattle (Acacia podalyriifolia)

Red Wattle (Acacia sylvestris)

Silver Wattle (Acacia dealbata)

Snowy River Wattle (Acacia boormanii) Ornamental

Sweet Wattle (Acacia suaveolens)

Sydney Golden Wattle (Acacia longifolia)

White Sally (Acacia floribunda)

Acacia glaucescens is toxic to stock.

Acacia jucunda

Racosperma species.

Plants of similar appearance:

Albizia (Paraserianthes lophantha) which has dark green foliage with broader leaflets, 1.5-3 mm wide, and large cylindric flower heads that are 3-6 cm long.

Karri Wattle (Acacia pentadenia) is similar but has darker green foliage, 2-4 globular flower heads in each spray, and smaller, 20-50 mm long by 3-4 mm wide pods.

Silver Wattle (Acacia dealbata) has much larger leaves.

Other bipinnate Wattles.


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