Acacias of Australia

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Acacia brownii (Poir.) Steud.

Common Name

Heath Wattle, Prickly Moses




Occurs in the Great Divide of eastern Australia from the Grampians, Vic., through N.S.W. to Burra Burri in Qld.


Closely related to A. ulicifolia but distinguished in the following ways: Sprawling commonly semi-prostrate shrub less than 1 m high. Branchlets glabrous or sparsely hirsutellous. Stipules frequently caducous, usually less than 1 mm long. Phyllodes often distant, linear, slender, quadrangular-terete to flat with a pronounced midrib, 8–25 mm long, neither broadening nor with a gland-angle at base. Flower-heads bright golden to deep golden.


Flowers July–Nov.


Grows in sand, in heath or dry sclerophyll woodland or open forest.


Qld: on southern slopes of Cockatoo Ridge, M.G.Lithgow 961 (MEL). N.S.W.: Blue Mtns Natl Park, c. 1 km due S of Glenbrook, B.R.Maslin 5889 (NSW, PERTH); Khyber Pass, M.D.Crisp 1289 (CANB, PERTH). Vic.: 6.4 km NE of Genoa P.O., A.C.Beauglehole 32837 (MEL, PERTH); c. 19 km due NNE of Moe, B.R.Maslin 5470 (PERTH).


Acacia brownii is sometimes treated as a variety of A. ulicifolia; and the two species possibly form hybrids (see A. ulicifolia for discussion). The characters distinguishing these sometimes sympatric taxa are given above, but they are not sharply delimited and herbarium material is sometimes difficult to identify with certainty. The phyllodes of A. brownii resemble those of the acicular variant of A. maitlandii from central Australia, which is distinguished by its habit (spindly open shrub), viscid branchlets, pulvinate phyllodes (A. brownii is subsessile) and flowers more numerous in the heads (20-35-flowered in A. brownii). Acacia brownii may sometimes be confused with A. aculeatissima.

The complex nomenclature of this name and that of A. ulicifolia is discussed by A.B.Court, Victorian Naturalist 73: 173 (1957) and Muelleria 2: 155–156 (1972), and L.Pedley, Austrobaileya 1: 239–241 (1980). The latter gave the combination as A. brownei Steud. ex DC., in Prodr. 2: 449 (1825), but de Candolle correctly attributed the combination to Steudel. In order to retain the current name for this species it is assumed that Steudel based his combination on Mimosa brownei Poir., even though the latter name was not cited.

The epithet ‘brownii’ is used in preference to ‘brownei’; see N.Hall & L.A.S.Johnson, The Names of Acacias of New South Wales 31 (1993).

FOA Reference

Data derived from Flora of Australia Volumes 11A (2001), 11B (2001) and 12 (1998), products of ABRS, ©Commonwealth of Australia



Minor edits by B.R.Maslin