Acacia falcata Carl Ludwig von Willdenow, 1806
(previously known as : Racosperma falcatum)
Sickle Wattle, Sally, Silver-leaved Wattle, Burra
MIMOSACEAE
  
Don Herbison-Evans,
(donherbisonevans@yahoo.com)
&
Christine Ashe


Acacia falcata is a rangy shrub, tall and open, and not at all rounded or tree like. It can be 2 Ė 5 metres tall, though on the Central Coast of New South Wales it seldom grows above 2 metres. The trunk is slender with generally smooth grey to black bark, but it can also be mottled and finely or deeply fissured so donít rely on the bark alone for an identification.


The phyllodes are falcate or crescent shaped, broader in the middle than on the ends and much narrower where they meet the branches. They are 7 to 12 cm long and up to 20mm wide, bluey glaucous grey to light green. The phyllodes have a prominent vein slightly off centre.


The flowers occur in early winter on racemes which hold up to 20 quite tiny globular pale cream flower balls. The racemes are not as long as the phyllodes and sadly they have no noticeable perfume. They donít flower prolifically every year, only when conditions suit, and particularly during dry spells.


The pod is between 5 and 12 cm long and about 6mm wide. It is a very distinctive blue grey and is slightly constricted between the seeds, all of which helps identify the wattle from its look alikes (such as Acacia falciformis, Acacia obliquinervia, or even Acacia suaveolens).


As they age the seeds within the pods blacken. The pods can be quite a feature in their own right for quite a few weeks and are an important food source for birds who relish them.


Acacia falcata naturally occurs on the edges of sclerophyll forests on the east coast of Australia from as far south as Narooma, extending inland to the tablelands and on into Queensland. They are reasonably common, particularly in cleared areas such as alongside roads where they may be one of the first shrubs to regenerate. In fact they are often used as a stabilizer plant to revegetate roadways.

Acacia falcata is a generally adaptable shrub in cultivation. They prefer full sun and welldrained positions. They are a reliably hardy though perhaps a short lived shrub, typically living only 5 to 10 years.

The foliage and flowers are food for a number of Caterpillars, including :

Jalmenus evagoras, LYCAENIDAE

Prosotas felderi, LYCAENIDAE

Anthela rubeola, ANTHELIDAE

Thalaina kimba, GEOMETRIDAE

Hypodoxa bryophylla, GEOMETRIDAE

Anisozyga pieroides, GEOMETRIDAE

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(updated 16 August 2008)