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Scientific Name
Synonyms
Common Names
Family
Origin
Naturalised Distribution
Cultivation
Habitat
Distinguishing Features
Habit
Seedling
Stems and Leaves
Flowers and Fruit
Reproduction and Dispersal
Impacts
Similar Species
Legislation
Management
Sources
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Click on images to enlarge


upright and spreading habit (Photo: Sheldon Navie)


habit in flower (Photo: Sheldon Navie)


the bluish-green twice-compound leaves (Photo: Sheldon Navie)


the lowest pair of branchlets on each leaf are shorter and angled backwards (Photo: Sheldon Navie)


close-up of a leaf showing the small raised structures (i.e. glands) at the junction of the leaf branchlets (Photo: Sheldon Navie)


the undersides of the leaves are sometimes slightly hairy (Photo: Sheldon Navie)


young flower clusters (Photo: Sheldon Navie)


drooping, elongated, compound flower clusters made up of many small globular flower clusters(Photo: Rob and Fiona Richardson)


close-up of small globular flower clusters with prominent stamens (Photo: Rob and Fiona Richardson)


bluish-green immature fruit (Photo: Rob and Fiona Richardson)


the reddish-brown fruit split open when fully mature (Photo: Sheldon Navie)


close-up of seeds with small fleshy arils (Photo: Steve Hurst at USDA PLANTS Database)


habit of Acacia baileyana 'Purpurea', with purplish-tinged young foliage (Photo: Sheldon Navie)


close-up of the reddish-purple tinged foliage tips of Acacia baileyana 'Purpurea' (Photo: Sheldon Navie)

Cootamundra wattle
Acacia baileyana

Scientific Name

Acacia baileyana F. Muell.

Synonyms

Acacia baileyana F. Muell. var. aurea Pescott
Acacia baileyana F. Muell. var. baileyana
Racospermum baileyanum (F. Muell.) Pedley

Common Names

Bailey's wattle, Cootamundra wattle, golden mimosa

Family

Fabaceae: sub-family Mimosoideae (New South Wales)
Leguminosae (South Australia)
Mimosaceae (Queensland, the ACT, Victoria, Tasmania, Western Australia and the Northern Territory)

Origin

This species has a very limited natural distribution in south-eastern Australia. It is native to the Temora, Cootamundra, Stockinbingal and Bethungra districts in the inland parts of southern New South Wales.

Naturalised Distribution

Naturalised in south-eastern Queensland, south-western Western Australia, many parts of Victoria, south-eastern South Australia (including Kangaroo Island) and the ACT. It is most widespread and troublesome in Victoria, particularly in the central and western parts of the state, and is relatively common in the hills and plains around Adelaide in south-eastern SA. It has also become naturalised in many parts of New South Wales beyond its native range, particularly in coastal districts and on the central and southern tablelands. Cootamundra wattle (Acacia baileyana) has also been reported as a weed in Tasmania, however this has not been confirmed by herbarium records.

This species has also become naturalised in other parts of the world, including southern Africa, New Zealand and south-western USA (i.e. California).

Cultivation

Cootamundra wattle (Acacia baileyana) is widely cultivated in parks, gardens and as a street tree in many parts of Australia (particularly in temperate and sub-tropical areas). In fact, it is probably the most commonly cultivated wattle in Australia.

Several cultivars, that differ form the description given here, are grown as ornamentals including: a cultivar with purplish-coloured young foliage (Acacia baileyana 'Purpurea'); a cultivar with yellowish-coloured young foliage (sometimes called Acacia baileyana 'Aurea'); a cultivar with reddish-coloured young foliage (sometimes called Acacia baileyana 'Rubra' or Acacia baileyana 'Rubrum'); and a low-growing cultivar that grows as a dense carpet (sometimes called Acacia baileyana 'Prostrata').

Habitat

This species grows naturally in open woodlands (e.g. mallee communities), primarily in stony or hilly country, in the inland parts of southern New South Wales.

It has become a weed of open woodlands, heathlands, grasslands, forest plantations, roadsides, disturbed sites, waste areas and watercourses (i.e. riparian vegetation) in the temperate and sub-tropical regions of Australia.

Distinguishing Features

Habit

An upright (i.e. erect) shrub or small tree with a spreading crown. It usually grows 3-6 m tall, but occasionally reaches up to 10 m in height.

Seedling

Seedlings have two undivided seed leaves (i.e. cotyledons). The first true leaves are twice-compound (i.e. bipinnate), but only have two pairs of branchlets (i.e. pinnae), each bearing several pairs of tiny leaflets (i.e. pinnules).

Stems and Leaves

The bark on older branches is smooth and either grey or brown in colour. The base of the trunk of mature trees can be up to 25 cm across. Younger branches are sometimes rounded, but more commonly they are angled or somewhat flattened towards their tips. These branches are hairless (i.e. glabrous) or can occasionally have some spreading hairs (i.e. pubescent), and often also have a waxy coating (i.e. they are pruinose). The tips of young foliage are usually a distinctive bluish-green colour, though in some plants they are purplish or reddish.

The leaves are twice-compound (i.e. bipinnate) and usually have a somewhat greyish-green, silvery-grey or bluish-grey appearance. These leaves (30-65 mm long) are alternately arranged along the stems and almost stalkless (i.e. sub-sessile). They consist of a swollen base (i.e. pulvinus) 2-5 mm long and a main stalk (i.e. rachis) bearing 2 to 4 (occasionally 5 or 6) pairs of branchlets (i.e. pinnae). The lowest pair of branchlets are usually smaller than the others and angled backwards (i.e. reflexed). The main stalk, which is usually only 1-4 cm long, has a small raised structure (i.e. gland) at the junction of the uppermost one to three pairs of branchlets. Each branchlet is 1-3 cm long and bears numerous (8-24) pairs of relatively small oblong or elongated leaflets (i.e. pinnules). These leaflets  (3-9 mm long and 0.7-1.6 mm wide) are hairless and usually have pointed tips.

Flowers and Fruit

The tiny golden yellow flowers are fluffy in appearance due to the presence of numerous stamens. These flowers have five relatively inconspicuous petals and sepals and are densely arranged into small globular clusters (6-8 mm across) containing 11-25 flowers. The globular flower clusters are borne on short slender stalks (i.e. peduncles) 4-7 mm long and are alternately arranged on a branch emanating from the forks (i.e. axils) of the leaves, or occasionally at the tip of the stem. These much larger elongated compound clusters (5-10 cm or more long), containing 8-30 of the small globular flower clusters, may or may not be branched (i.e. they form inflorescences resembling racemes or panicles) and are significantly longer than the leaves. Flowering generally occurs during late winter and spring, but may occasionally last into early summer in cooler climates.

The fruit is an elongated pod (30-120 mm long and 8-15 mm wide) that is borne on a short stalk. These pods are flattened, hairless (i.e. glabrous), and either straight or slightly curved. They are bluish-green in colour and covered in a whitish powdery substance when young (i.e. pruinose), but turn brown or reddish-brown as they mature.When fully mature they split open to release up to 12 dark brown to black seeds. Fruit are normally present during late spring and summer (i.e. from October to January). The seeds (4-7 mm long and 2-4 mm wide) are hard-coated and have a small fleshy structure (i.e. aril) attached to them.

Reproduction and Dispersal

Reproduction in this species is by long-lived seeds, that tend to accumulate in the soil and germinate readily after fire or other forms of disturbance.

Seeds may be dispersed short distances when the pods split open explosively in hot weather, and by ants that collect the seeds and take them to their nests. The relatively light and papery pods may also be spread some distance by wind and water. As this species is commonly cultivated, one of the main means of dispersal is in dumped garden waste. Longer distance dispersal can also occur when contaminated soil or mud is transported by vehicles.

Impacts

Cootamundra wattle (Acacia baileyana) is regarded as a significant environmental weed in Victoria and the ACT. It is also considered to be a relatively important or emerging environmental weed in south-eastern South Australia, south-western Western Australia, south-eastern Queensland, Tasmania, and many parts of New South Wales that are beyond its natural range (particularly in coastal districts and in the Blue Mountains region).

This species has been widely cultivated throughout Australia since the 1800's and has spread from these ornamental plantings into native ecosystems, particularly in south-eastern Australia. When grown beyond its natural range it readily invades intact open woodlands, heathlands, grasslands and dry eucalypt woodlands on a variety of soil types. It also becomes naturalised along watercourses (i.e. in riparian vegetation) and roadsides.

Cootamundra wattle (Acacia baileyana) can displace other wattles (Acacia spp.) that are native to a particular area, and can also form dense stands that shade out other native plants. It is known to hybridise with other species of wattle, thereby partially replacing natural populations of these species with unnatural hybrids. In addition to this, because it fixes nitrogen in the soil, dense infestations can significantly increase soil fertility. This can make the soil less suitable for the growth of many native plants, and invaded areas can them become more vulnerable to invasion by other weed species.

Similar Species

Cootamundra wattle (Acacia baileyana) may be confused with several other species of native wattles (Acacia spp.), particularly those that have silvery-grey twice-compound leaves. Similar species include silver wattle ( Acacia dealbata subsp. dealbata) and karri wattle (Acacia pentadenia). These species can be distinguished by the following differences:

Hybrids of Cootamundra wattle (Acacia baileyana) and several other wattles (Acacia spp.) are known to occur, and outside the native range of this species these hybrids are also considered to be weeds. Such hybrids can be very similar to Cootamundra wattle (Acacia baileyana), but are usually intermediate in appearance between the two species involved. The most commonly occurring hybrid is between Cootamundra wattle (Acacia baileyana) and silver wattle ( Acacia dealbata subsp. dealbata).

Note: This page only covers those species that have been reported to be commonly confused with Cootamundra wattle (Acacia baileyana). For a more in-depth key to all of the wattle species present in Australia see the Wattle: Acacias of Australia CD-ROM or Flora of Australia, Volumes 11A and 11B.

Legislation

This species is declared under legislation in the following states and territories:

Management

For information on the management of this species see the following resources:

Sources

Anonymous (2000). Indicator: Pest Plant Species. ACT State of the Environment Report 2000. http://www.environmentcommissioner.act.gov.au/SoE/SoE2000/ACT/Index.htm. Office of the Commissioner for the Environment, Dickson, ACT.

Anonymous (2005). Australia's Virtual Herbarium. http://www.anbg.gov.au/avh. Australian National Botanic Gardens, Environment Australia, Canberra, ACT.

Anonymous (2006). National List of Naturalised Invasive and Potentially Invasive Garden Plants. Version 1.2. World Wildlife Fund - Australia (WWF Australia).

Barker, B., Barker, R., Jessop, J. and Vonow, H. (2005). Census of South Australian Vascular Plants. Fifth Edition. The Botanic Gardens of Adelaide and State Herbarium, Government of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia.

Bostock, P.D. and Holland, A.E. (2007). Census of the Queensland Flora 2007. Queensland Herbarium, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Brisbane, Queensland.

Blood, K. (2001). Environmental Weeds: a field guide for SE Australia. C.H. Jerram and Associates - Science Publishers, Mt. Waverley, Melbourne, Victoria.

Coleman, H. (1998). Acacia baileyana F.Muell. FloraBase: The Western Australian Flora. http://florabase.calm.wa.gov.au. Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM), Perth, Western Australia.

Glazik, R. and Rudman, T. (2000). Weeds in Your Bush: weed control measures for particular species. http://www.bushcare.tas.gov.au/care/wdspecies.htm. Bushcare Technical Extension, Bushcare Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania.

Harley, B. (2005). Cootamundra wattle. Bush Invader. Weeds of Blue Mountains Bushland: garden plants going wild - a guide to identification and control. http://weedsbluemountains.org.au/index.asp.

Henderson, L. (2001). Alien Weeds and Invasive Plants. Plant Protection Research Institute, Agricultural Research Council, South Africa.

Holliday, I. (2002). A Field Guide to Australian Trees. Third Edition. New Holland Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd, Sydney, New South Wales.

Hussey, B.M.J., Keighery, G.J., Cousens, R.D., Dodd, J. and Lloyd, S.G. (1997). Western Weeds: a guide to the weeds of Western Australia. The Plant Protection Society of Western Australia, Victoria Park, Perth, Western Australia.

Keighery, G. and Longman, V. (2004). The naturalized vascular plants of Western Australia. 1: checklist, environmental weeds and distribution in IBRA regions. Plant Protection Quarterly 19: 12-32.

Kodela. P.G. and Harden, G.J. (2006). Acacia baileyana. New South Wales Flora Online. PlantNET - The Plant Information Network System of Botanic Gardens Trust. http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au. Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, Sydney, New South Wales.

Lazarides, M., Cowley, K. and Hohnen, P. (1997). CSIRO Handbook of Australian Weeds. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Victoria.

Lepschi, B.J., Adams, L.G., Mallinson, D.J. and Jones, D.L. (2007). Census of the Vascular Plants of the Australian Capital Territory. http://www.anbg.gov.au/cpbr/ACT-census/. Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Canberra, ACT.

Maslin, B.R. (2001). WATTLE: Acacias of Australia. CD-ROM. Australian Bological Resources Study (ABRS) and Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM), Government of Western Australia.

Miles, J. (2005). Cootamundra wattle (Acacia baileyana). South Coast Weeds. http://www.esc.nsw.gov.au/Weeds/index.asp.

Moore, J. and Wheeler, J. (2002). Southern Weeds and their Control. Department of Agriculture of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia.

Morgan, A., Carthew, S.M. and Sedgley, M. (2002). Breeding system, reproductive efficiency and weed potential of Acacia baileyana. Australian Journal of Botany 50: 357-364.

Muyt, A. (2001). Bush Invaders of South-East Australia. R.G. and F.J. Richardson, Meredith, Victoria.

Randall, R.P. (2002). A Global Compendium of Weeds. R.G. and F.J. Richardson, Meredith, Victoria.

Stanley, T.E. and Ross, E.M. (1983). Flora of South-eastern Queensland. Volume 1. Department of Primary Industries, Brisbane, Queensland.

Tame, T., Kodela. P., Conn, B. and Hill, K. (2001). Acacia baileyana. Wattleweb. http://plantnet.rbgsyd.gov.au/WattleWeb/index.php. Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, New South Wales.

Tindale, M.D. and Kodela, P.G. (2001). Acacia baileyana F. Muell. Flora of Australia Online. http://www.anbg.gov.au/abrs/online-resources/flora/index.html. Australian Bological Resources Study (ABRS), Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, ACT.

Walsh, N.G. and Stajsic, V. (2007). A Census of the Vascular Plants of Victoria. Eighth Edition. National Herbarium of Victoria, South Yarra, Victoria.