Kangaroo Thorn

Acacia paradoxa DC.

Synonyms - Acacia armata, Mimosa paradoxa, Racosperma armata.

Family: Fabaceae (was Mimosaceae)

Names:

Acacia was the name of a thorny Egyptian tree.
Kangaroo Thorn refers to its thorny nature.

Other Names:

Acacia Hedge
Hedge Wattle
Prickly Acacia
Prickly Moses
Prickly Shrub Wattle
Prickly Wattle

Summary:

Kangaroo Thorn (Acacia paradoxa) is a straggly to compact, intricate spiny shrub or small tree 2-4 m high with dark brown finely fissured bark, weeping branches and ribbed branchlets. The leaves are replaced by undivided leaf-like phyllodes that are 8-20(30) mm long x 2-8 mm wide, shortly hairy with wavy margins and each face has 1 prominent longitudinal vein (the non-central midrib). Two spines occur at the base of each phyllode and are 4-15 mm long. The globular golden flower heads are single (or rarely 2) per axil. The seed pods are 2-7 cm long and 3-5 mm wide, straight to slightly curved and shortly hairy.
Native to eastern Australia and planted as an ornamental or hedge species, it is now a weed often forming dense thickets in high rainfall areas especially after fires. It flowers from July to October.

Description:

See the Weedy_Acacia_Key

Cotyledons:

Two.

First leaves:

Bipinnate.

Leaves:

Alternate. On mature plants there are no true leave and only green leaf like phyllodes which are flattened petioles.
Phyllodes: Erect, asymmetrical, egg shaped to spear shaped, straight or slightly curved, flat, erect, 7-20(30) mm long x 2-8 mm wide and often somewhat crowded. Upper edge undulating. Mid vein prominent and off centre and side veins branching. Edges slightly thickened and undulating. One small gland near base of “leaf”. Tip pointed which may be hard or soft or acute with a fine, curved, pungent point (mucro) or beaked. Edges curved and undulating. Base asymmetrically tapered. Initially hairy and becoming hairless with age apart from hairs on the central vein.
Stipules - 2 persistent, rigid spines mostly 4-12(15) mm long.
Petiole - Base of petiole swollen to form the pulvinus which is 0.5 mm long and often hairy.
Blade - None on mature trees, bipinnate on juvenile foliage.

Stems:

2-4 m tall often with drooping outer branches. Usually hairy.
Erect or spreading. Many branched. Branches are sometime drooping or weeping.
Branchlets angled or ribbed (or occasionally cylindrical lower down) and usually hairy but occasionally almost hairless.
Bark - Dark brownish grey and finely fissured.

Flower head:

Very bright yellow, globular flower heads, 7-12 mm diameter that are borne singly (or rarely in pairs) in the leaf axils on hairless to sparsely hairy stalks (peduncles) that are 5-15(20) mm long (as long as the leaf). Each head has (20)30-50 tiny flowers.
Flowers subtended by a long, spiny bracteole that is conspicuous in bud.

Flowers:

Bisexual. Actinomorphic.
Ovary - Superior. One carpel. Hairy to hairless. Numerous ovules
Style - Threadlike
Calyx - 5 lobed that separates into spade shaped sepals. Hairy.
Sepals - 5. Spade shaped and united.
Petals - 5. Hairless.
Stamens - Numerous and free.
Anthers - Fertile. 2 celled. Opening by longitudinal slits

Fruit:

Light brown, cylindrical, straight or slightly curved, flattish pod, 20-60(70) mm long x 3-5 mm diameter. Thinly leathery. Scarcely constricted between the seeds. White hairy and somewhat sticky. Edges pale and thickened. The seeds are arranged longitudinally on the pod. Opens by two valves

Seeds:

Green to dark brown, elliptical, 3-5 mm long x 2 mm, shiny.
Funicle thread like and expanded near the seed to a prominent pale, small aril.

Roots:

Taproot.

Key Characters:

Phyllodes 3-7 mm wide and 8-30 mm long (< 6 times as long as broad) with a distinct mid vein and conspicuous? lateral or reticulate veins.
Phyllodes undulate, asymmetrical, mid vein off centre.
Phyllodes with ending in a short mucro.
Stipules persistent, spines 5-15 mm long.
Flower heads globular, golden yellow and on simple axillary peduncles
Flowers actinomorphic, 5 merous, more than 15 per head.
Ovary superior.
Stamens all free, more than 10 and usually < 0.5 mm long and yellow.
Adapted from J.R. Wheeler, G Harden.

Biology:

Life cycle:

Perennial.

Physiology:

Reproduction:

By seed.

Flowering times:

August to October in Perth. July to October in WA.
July to November in NSW.
Spring in Western NSW.
Spring in SE Australia.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Germinates readily after fire.

Vegetative Propagules:

Hybrids:

Hybridises with a number of other Acacia species

Allelopathy:

Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Increases rapidly after fire.
Long distance dispersal usually by intentional plantings as a hedge plant.

Origin and History:

Native to south eastern Australia.
Introduced to Tasmania and Western Australia.

Distribution:

ACT, NSW, QLD, SA, TAS, VIC, WA.
Avon Wheatbelt, Esperance Plains, Jarrah Forest, Swan Coastal Plain and Warren regions of WA.
Naturalised in Tasmania.

Courtesy Australia's Virtual Herbarium.

Habitats:

Mugga Ironbark, Green Mallee, Grey Box and many other plant communities.
Dry hillsides in Tasmania (Curtis, 1956).

Climate:

Cool temperate, Mediterranean.

Soil:

Grows on a range of soil types.
Prefers gravelly and stony ridges, white-grey sands, clay, rocky loam, wet areas, heavy soils.

Plant Associations:

Tuart forest, Mugga Ironbark, Green Mallee, Grey Box. Woodlands and shrublands

Significance:

Beneficial:

Hedge plant. Ornamental. Shelter.

Detrimental:

Environmental weed forming dense thickets in high rainfall areas especially after fire.

Toxicity:

Suspected of poisoning stock (Webb, 1948), however the spiny nature of the plant generally precludes grazing and stock poisoning is rare.

Symptoms:

Treatment:

Remove stock from infestation or provide alternate feed.

Legislation:

Was a noxious weed of Victoria.

Management and Control:

Picloram, Garlon® and glyphosate are used for chemical control as overall sprays, cut stump or topical application to the trunk.
Use Garlon® 480 at 1:400 or Roundup® CT at 1:200 as an overall spray for control of juvenile shrubs 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 shrubs but usually leads 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.

Thresholds:

Eradication strategies:

In large dense stands a hot fire may be used to allow better access for control and encourage seed to germinate so that it may be controlled by herbicides and reduce the soil seed bank.
Cutting at the base, bulldozing, root raking and hand pulling seedlings (with gloves) provides good control.
A basal bark treatment is often the most cost effective. Apply a mixture of 1 L of Access® in 60 L of diesel to the lower 50 cm of the trunk and repeat in 6 months if necessary.
For mature or juvenile shrubs, apply a mixture of 1 L of Grazon in 100 L of water to the foliage any time the plant is actively growing.
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.
For juvenile shrubs, 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.
Avoid further burning or denuding the area as this will encourage seedling establishment.
Repeat the treatment every second year to ensure that no plants reach an age where they can set seed.
A large number of seedlings often emerge in the season after dozing, burning or spraying. If these are left the infestation may become worse. Follow up every 2-3 years to ensure no plants 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 plant them in gardens outside of their native range in south eastern Australia.

Herbicide resistance:

None reported.

Biological Control:

Unlikely because many are Australian native species.

Related plants:

See the Weedy_Acacia_Key
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) Bark used in tanning.
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 was Vachellia 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:

Prickly Moses (Acacia pulchella) a WA native species.
Distinguished from Acacia congesta and Acacia idiomorpha by its innocuous phyllodes.

References:

Bodkin, F. (1986). Encyclopaedia Botanica. (Angus and Robertson, Australia).

Cunningham, G.M., Mulham, W.E., Milthorpe, P.L. and Leigh, J.H. (1992). Plants of Western New South Wales. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P368. Photo.

Everist, S.L. (1974). Poisonous Plants of Australia. (Angus and Robertson, Sydney).

Harden, Gwen J. (1991). Flora of NSW. (Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney). Volume 2. P366. Diagram.

Hussey, B.M.J., Keighery, G.J., Cousens, R.D., Dodd, J. and Lloyd, S.G. (2007). Western Weeds. A guide to the weeds of Western Australia. (Second Edition) Plant Protection Society of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia. P192. Photo.

Lamp, C. and Collet, F. (1990). A Field Guide to Weeds in Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P1. Photo.

Lazarides, M. and Cowley, K. and Hohnen, P. (1997). CSIRO handbook of Australian Weeds. (CSIRO, Melbourne). #3.19.

Marchant, N.G., Wheeler, J.R., Rye, B.L., Bennett, E.M., Lander, N.S. and Macfarlane, T.D. (1987). Flora of the Perth Region. (Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Agriculture, Western Australia). P227.

Maslin, B.R. (2001) Wattle. Acacias of Australia. CD.

Moore, J.H. and Wheeler, J.R. (2008). Southern Weeds and their Control. (Second Edition). Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia. P170. Photos.

Paczkowska, G. and Chapman, A. (2000). The Western Australia flora: a descriptive catalogue. (Wildflower Society of Western Australia (Inc), the Western Australian Herbarium, CALM and the Botanic Gardens & Parks Authority). P318.

Tame, T.(1992). Acacias of Southeast Australia. Kangaroo Press, Kenthurst, NSW, Australia. P123-124. Diagram.

Wheeler, Judy, Marchant, Neville and Lewington, Margaret. (2002). Flora of the South West: Bunbury - Augusta - Denmark. (Western Australian Herbarium, Bentley, Western Australia). P674. Diagram.

Acknowledgments:

Collated by HerbiGuide. Phone 08 98444064 or www.herbiguide.com.au for more information.