Acacia dealbata (acacia bernier)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Plant Type
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Biology and Ecology
- Latitude/Altitude Ranges
- Air Temperature
- Rainfall Regime
- Soil Tolerances
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Impact Summary
- Environmental Impact
- Impact: Biodiversity
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Wood Products
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Acacia dealbata Link
Preferred Common Name
- acacia bernier
Other Scientific Names
- Acacia decurrens var. dealbata (Link) F. Muell.
- Racosperma dealbatum (Link) Pedley
International Common Names
- English: aroma; mimosa tree; silver green wattle; silver wattle; Sydney black wattle; wattle bark
- French: acacie blanchatre; mimosa argente
Local Common Names
- France: mimosa
- Germany: Australische Silber- Akazie; Mimosenbaum
- Italy: acacia bianca
- Netherlands: mimosa
- ACADA (Acacia dealbata)
- silver wattle
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page A. dealbata, as a legume with an ability to seed prolifically and to produce root suckers, it is often among the first to colonize cleared land, which has led to it becoming a weed in many countries. It is a declared weed (category 1) in the Western Cape and a declared invader (category 2) across the rest of South Africa (Henderson, 2001). It has various ecological and environmental impacts including the displacement of native vegetation, disruption to water flow leading to streambank erosion and changed nutrient cycling patterns. As a species that has already been widely introduced and in present in a large numbers of countries, it is likely that further accounts of its invasiveness may be reported.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Fabales
- Family: Fabaceae
- Subfamily: Mimosoideae
- Genus: Acacia
- Species: Acacia dealbata
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page Acacias belong to the large order Fabales which has been split into three families, acacias belonging to the family Mimosaceae (Tame, 1992). The Mimosaceae comprise three subgenera with A. dealbata belonging to subgenus Phyllodineae, section Botrycephalae, which contains 42 species (Maslin and McDonald, 1996). Species in the section Botrycephalae all retain their bipinnate foliage in adult trees and are confined to the cooler and moister southeastern part of Australia (Boland, 1987).
A. dealbata was described in Enum. Hort. Berol. 2: 445 (1822). The specific epithet is derived from the Latin 'dealbatus', meaning 'covered with white powder'; this refers to the whitish or silvery appearance of the canopy (Boland et al., 1984). Its common name, silver wattle, also refers to this characteristic. A small-leafed form, most commonly found at higher altitudes, is currently under investigation for subspecific rank by M.D. Tindale (National Herbarium of New South Wales). A. dealbata has a similar morphology to other Botrycephalae species such as A. nano-dealbata, found only in Victoria and distinguished by its shorter pinnules and a petiolar gland, and is sometimes confused with A. mearnsii, A. silvestris, A. leucoclada (Doran and Turnbull, 1997) and A. decurrens (Whibley and Symon, 1992).
DescriptionTop of page The species is illustrated in several texts including Boland et al. (1984), Simmons (1988), Tame (1992) and Whibley and Symon (1992). A. dealbata is a large shrub to tall tree with an erect stem usually ranging in height from 2-15 m, but attaining 30 m in parts of Tasmania and Victoria, Australia. It often is seen as a spreading shrub but where space allows it has a rounded crown. Bark is brown grey to dark grey, often mottled white (due to lichen growth). Young stems and new growth are smoother and lighter in colour. A. dealbata produces root suckers and coppices easily. A. dealbata has silvery green to dark green densely hairy bipinnate leaves 6-11 cm long. Leaves have 7-26 pairs of pinnae which are 15-30 mm in length. There are 20-50 pairs of leaflets on each, linear oblong, 2-5 mm long and 0.4-0.7 mm wide. The glands are prominent with one on the petiole and a raised gland at the junction between pairs of pinnae (Tame, 1992). A. dealbata exhibits a diurnal rhythm of pinnule movement in which the leaves open by day and close by night (Boland, 1987). Flowers are normally golden yellow but sometimes are lemon or pale yellow in colour (Simmons, 1988) with 25-35 flowers in globular heads on peduncles ca. 6 mm long found in the terminal, axillary racemes and panicles. Pods are bluish glaucous, oblong in shape, 58-80 mm long and 8-12 mm wide (Tame, 1992), margins slightly thicker and raised and irregular with constrictions between seeds. The seed is black and oblong 4-6 x 2-3 mm, arranged longitudinally in the pod with a short seed stalk and a cap-like aril (Simmons, 1988). Seeds are shed and remain viable in the ground for many years.
Plant TypeTop of page Broadleaved
DistributionTop of page In Australia, A. dealbata has a natural distribution mainly on the tablelands and in the foothills of the Australian Alps from northern New South Wales to mid-western Victoria at altitudes of 350-1000 m. In Tasmania, it grows between 50-600 m elevation (Boland et al., 1984). The main latitudinal distribution is 33-38°S and its complete range is found between 29 and 43°S. It has become naturalized in South Australia and southeastern Queensland.
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Planted||Reference||Notes|
|China||Present||Introduced||Pan and Yang, 1987|
|-Jammu and Kashmir||Present||Introduced||Planted|
|Indonesia||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|Sri Lanka||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Midgley and Vivekanandan, 1987|
|Madagascar||Present||Introduced||Planted||Weber , 2003|
|South Africa||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Cronk and Fuller , 1995; Henderson , 2001|
|-California||Present||Introduced||California Invasive Plant Council, Cal-IPC|
Central America and Caribbean
|Argentina||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Zalba , 1995|
|Chile||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Montenegro and et al. , 1991|
|France||Restricted distribution||Introduced||Invasive||Delabraze and Valette, 1979; EPPO, 2014|
|-Corsica||Present, few occurrences||Introduced||Planted||EPPO, 2014|
|Portugal||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Marchante and Marchante , 2003; EPPO, 2014|
|-Azores||Present||Introduced||Weber , 2003; EPPO, 2014|
|Spain||Present||Introduced||Dana and et al. , 2003; EPPO, 2014|
|Australia||Restricted distribution||Native||Boland et al., 1984; EPPO, 2014|
|-New South Wales||Present||Native||Planted, Natural|
|-Queensland||Present||Introduced||Planted, Natural||Ryan et al., 1987|
|-South Australia||Present||Introduced||Planted, Natural|
|-Tasmania||Present||Native||Kube et al., 1996|
|-Victoria||Present||Native||Planted, Natural||Bird et al., 1998|
|New Zealand||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Pollock et al., 1985; Weber , 2003|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page A. dealbata has been introduced into South Australia and southern Queensland where it has now become naturalized. It has been introduced into many countries including Chile, China, France (and other parts of southern Europe), India, Japan, Kenya, Nepal, New Zealand, North Africa, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Uganda, West Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It has become a weed in many countries including South Africa (Henderson, 1989; Campbell et al., 1990), parts of India (Matthew, 1965), Sri Lanka (Midgley and Vivekanandan, 1987) and France (Delabraze and Valette, 1979).
The first acacias, including A. dealbata, were introduced into Sri Lanka in 1870 to supply fuelwood for the tea estates and railways in the highlands. Initially it became popular due to its attractive flowers but with its rapid growth it became useful for the afforestation of marginal lands (Midgley and Vivekanandan, 1987). Since 1960 about 50 acacia species have been introduced into China (Pan and Yang, 1987) and the area of A. dealbata plantation in China is approximately 300 ha (Wang and Fang, 1991). It has become naturalized in parts of New Zealand (Pollock et al., 1986).
A. dealbata was probably introduced into South Africa after being confused with black wattle (A. mearnsii). Due to its fast growth, tolerance of severe frosts and usefulness for poles and firewood, it was planted extensively near the Drakensberg and the mistbelt regions of Natal (Campbell et al., 1990). In these areas and in the Orange Free State it is now seriously invasive (Whibley and Symon, 1992). It was planted in Kenya and Zimbabwe in the early 1900s but was soon replaced with A. mearnsii which had higher tannin yields (Streets, 1962). A. dealbata was introduced into West Africa from North Africa (Cossalter, 1987).
A. dealbata was introduced to Chile as an ornamental (Montenegro et al., 1991) and has become established along highways and drainage lines. According to Montenegro et al. (1991) it is now abundant in all types of disturbed sites in mediterranean climate zones across Chile, and can even recruit young plants in mechanically disturbed sites. It has become naturalized in the Nilgiri and Palni Hills in India (Troup, 1921). In France and other parts of southern Europe it is known as 'mimosa' where it is used in the cut flower trade and in perfumes (Doran and Turnbull, 1997). In California, USA, it is suspected of aggressive behaviour in natural areas, and is listed as one of a number of species for which more information is required in this regard Cal-IPC (2003). It is listed as an invasive species in Portugal (Marchante and Marchante, 2003) and appears on a checklist of plant invaders in Spain for which further monitoring is recommended (Dana et al., 2003).
Risk of IntroductionTop of page The widespread intentional introduction and planting of this species, including as an ornamental are likely to pose a risk of future invasive events.
HabitatTop of page In its native range, A. dealbata grows in montane forests, along watercourses and in dry sclerophyllous forests and is a shrub in dry conditions (Weber, 2003). It occurs within forests and woodlands on a variety of soil types in cool to warm sub-humid climatic zones. In its introduced range it has become established in sclerophyllous matorral and sclerophyllous forest in Chile (Montenegro et al., 1991). It is reported to invade grassland, roadsides and watercourses in South Africa (Henderson, 2001).
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial – Managed||Rail / roadsides||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-natural||Natural forests||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Natural grasslands||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Riverbanks||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
Biology and EcologyTop of page Genetics
Although there is interest from many countries, there are no large scale commercial plantations of A. dealbata (Neilsen et al., 1998) and consequently there has been little research carried out on provenance variation or breeding. Given the wide range of environments in which A. dealbata occurs, it is likely that genetic variation will be important in this species (Kube et al., 1996). Recently trials by Kube et al. (1996) and Neilsen et al. (1998) have been established in Tasmania and although conclusive recommendations cannot yet be made, preliminary results indicate that there may be important variation both between and within provenances. Neilsen et al. (1998) found variation in growth at regional, provenance and family level with the majority of variation for growth rate occurring at the family level. Kube et al. (1996) found a heritability of 0.21 for height growth of A. dealbata at age 16 months. A putative hybrid, endemic to Victoria involving A. dealbata and A. baileyana has been noted by Willis (1972) and Tame (1992).
Physiology and Phenology
In Australia, flowering occurs in winter to spring (July to November) (Morrison and Davies, 1991). The period between flowering and seed maturation is 5-6 months (Boland, 1987). A. dealbata has a moderately long lifespan for acacia species, exceeding 20 years (Boland, 1987).
Propagation of A. dealbata is by seed. Germination rate averages 74% and there are approximately 53,400 viable seeds/kg (Doran and Turnbull, 1997). A. dealbata suckers extensively from roots and coppices easily from wounded stumps (Campbell et al., 1990).
A. dealbata occurs naturally in the cool to warm subhumid climatic zones, sometimes into the humid zone. In most of the mainland Australian native range, the mean maximum temperature of the warmest month is 20-28°C and the mean minimum of the coolest month is close to 0°C. The average annual number of frosts is 20-80 with varying snowfalls (Boland et al., 1984). In coastal regions of Tasmania, frosts decrease to an average of 2 per year. The average number of days when 32°C is exceeded is 1-15 (Doran and Turnbull, 1997). The mean annual rainfall is 600-1000 mm (up to 1500 mm) the lowest recorded being 300-500 mm. Seasonal distribution varies from a summer maximum in northern New South Wales, to a winter maximum in central-western Victoria and Tasmania. The average annual number of rain days is 85-120, but may be as high as 130-170 days in Victoria and Tasmania (Doran and Turnbull, 1997).
A. dealbata is found mainly on the tablelands and foothills of southeastern Australia and in Tasmania. Topography varies from high plateaux to deep mountain valleys (Boland et al., 1984) growing in hilly country, often on steep slopes and along river banks. Soil types range from deep and fertile forest podsols, clays and gravelly clays of moderate drainage to well-drained stony slopes, volcanic brown earths and lateritic krasnozems. Substrates include basalt, granite and sandstone (Doran and Turnbull, 1997).
A. dealbata is often a dominant shrub in eucalypt forests and is a small tree in clearings or on disturbed sites where it regenerates vigorously. On better sites it is found growing with Eucalyptus fastigata, E. regnans and E. viminalis while on drier sites and at higher altitudes it is found with E. radiata subsp. robertsonii, E. dives and E. nortonii (Boland et al., 1984).
Roughley (1987) found that 75-100% of rhizobium strains will nodulate A. dealbata. New introductions to Sri Lanka demonstrated good nodulation (Midgley and Vivekanandan, 1987) and Fangqiu et al. (1998) note that seedlings grown for trials in China produced root nodules within three months. Inoculation techniques in the nursery are described by Doran (1997).
Latitude/Altitude RangesTop of page
|Latitude North (°N)||Latitude South (°S)||Altitude Lower (m)||Altitude Upper (m)|
Air TemperatureTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit|
|Absolute minimum temperature (ºC)||-8|
|Mean annual temperature (ºC)||10||16|
|Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC)||20||28|
|Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC)||0||2|
RainfallTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit||Description|
|Mean annual rainfall||300||1830||mm; lower/upper limits|
Rainfall RegimeTop of page Summer
Soil TolerancesTop of page
Special soil tolerances
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page Within Australia, A. dealbata is susceptible to the fireblight beetle, Pyrgoides orphana, which defoliates the species and has a great impact on growth in natural stands in Tasmania (Elliott, 1978; Kube and Brown, 1996) and is seen as a limiting factor in establishing A. dealbata as a plantation species (Simpfendorfer, 1992; Kube et al., 1997). The beetle larvae can cause complete defoliation in winter and spring and significantly lower growth rates. This allows secondary attack by other insects, such as wood borers, which cause major stem damage and sometimes death (Bashford, 1991).
Diseases such as wire-stem rot and fungal rot were known to cause problems in trials planted in China (Fangqiu et al., 1998). Various fungi have also been reported as causing serious losses to A. dealbata stock in a number of nurseries (Ito and Shibukawa, 1956; Terashita, 1962). Lee (1993) provides a summary of diseases recorded on A. dealbata in several parts of the world.
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page No information has been located as to the accidental spread of A. dealbata, though it is likely to be disseminated by birds, insects and water. A. dealbata is a prolific producer of seeds.
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Fisheries / aquaculture||None|
Environmental ImpactTop of page A. dealbata is nitrogen fixing and raises soil fertility thus having positive environmental effects (Weber, 2003). Chau et al. (1985) note that in its area of occurrence the nitrogen fixation carried out by A. dealbata played an important role in the nutrient cycling of the forest. Frederick et al. (1985) showed that the top 40 cm of soil of an A. dealbata stand contained over 60% more nitrogen than under Pinus radiata and 40% more than under Eucalyptus regnans. Furthermore the nitrogen cycling through the litterfall was more than twice as large in the A. dealbata leaf litter compared with the other species. It was found that the net annual accumulation of nitrogen for the A. dealbata was 280 kg/ha, thus improving the nitrogen status of the soil considerably.
Dense thickets, however, disrupt water flow and increase erosion along stream banks (Weber, 2003) and inhibit the growth of other vegetation (Weber, 2003). A. dealbata is also considered to be allelopathic (Reigosa et al., 1984).
Impact: BiodiversityTop of page A. dealbata is an important source of winter food for wild animals in its native range, notably petaurid arboreal marsupials including Leadbeater's possum (Gymnobelideus leadbeateri), the sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps), the squirrel glider (Petaurus norfolcensis), the mahogany glider (Petaurus norfolcensis) and the yellow-bellied glider (Petaurus australis) (Smith, 1982; Henry, 1985; Menkhorst et al., 1988). Smith and Lindenmayer (1992) found acacia gum may contribute up to 80% of the Leadbeater's possum's daily energy requirements.
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Highly adaptable to different environments
- Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
- Highly mobile locally
- Has high reproductive potential
- Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
- Damaged ecosystem services
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Reduced native biodiversity
- Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
- Difficult/costly to control
UsesTop of page A. dealbata has been used to control soil erosion. Being a legume with an ability to seed prolifically and to produce root suckers it is often among the first to colonize cleared land (Logan, 1987). Soil conservation research in New Zealand has selected drought tolerant acacia species which included A. dealbata and introduced them for hillside stabilization, gully erosion control and for wind breaks (Sheppard et al., 1984; Sheppard, 1986; Pollock et al., 1986). It was used to stabilize eroded hill slopes in the Nilgiri Hills in India (Troup, 1921; Streets, 1962) and in Sri Lanka it was used for afforestation of marginal upland areas (Midgley and Vivekanandan, 1987). Due to its invasiveness, however, A. dealbata has now become a weed in many of these regions. A. dealbata is also grown as an ornamental in southern Europe where it is known as 'mimosa', and where it is also used in the cut flower trade (Boland et al., 1984). It is also used as a street tree in Kunming, China (Wang and Fang, 1991).
A. dealbata is a superior quality pulpwood and Logan (1987) notes it has a higher basic density than other fast growing hardwoods. Its kraft pulping and papermaking properties make it suitable for a range of paper and paperboard products such as linerboards, bag and wrapping papers, white boards and writing and printing paper. It has the levels of brightness required for some high grade papers (Clark et al., 1994), and it has lower alkali requirements than most eucalypts (Phillips et al., 1991). It is a satisfactory fuelwood, is used as a furniture timber and occasionally for wood wool, poles, and has good gluing properties (Doran and Turnbull, 1997).
A. dealbata is not generally known as a source of animal fodder in Australia, but it has been recommended for this purpose (RCL, 1985). It is also used in the Nilgiri Hills of southern India for fodder (Doran and Turnbull, 1997). The flowers are used for perfume production and French manufacturers recognize the extract for its ability as a blender and 'smoothing agent' for synthetics and as a fixative in high grade perfume (Poucher, 1984; Boland, 1987). A. dealbata is a valuable source of pollen for bees (Clemson, 1985). Lindenmayer et al. (1994) found the sugar content of A. dealbata gum was 48.6%. Its gum may be used as a substitute for gum arabic and occasionally its bark is used for tanning production but is lower yielding and poorer quality when compared with A. mearnsii (Doran and Turnbull, 1997). Wool may be dyed yellow-fawn or green using A. dealbata leaves depending on the mordants used (Martin, 1974).
Uses ListTop of page
- Boundary, barrier or support
- Erosion control or dune stabilization
- Shade and shelter
- Soil improvement
Human food and beverage
- Honey/honey flora
- Carved material
- Essential oils
- Miscellaneous materials
Wood ProductsTop of page
- Building poles
- Industrial and domestic woodware
- Tool handles
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page A. dealbata has a similar morphology to other Botrycephalae species of the genus Acacia such as A. nano-dealbata, found only in Victoria, Australia and distinguished by its shorter pinnules and a petiolar gland, and is also sometimes confused with A. mearnsii, A. silvestris, A. leucoclada (Doran and Turnbull, 1997) and A. decurrens (Whibley and Symon, 1992).
Prevention and ControlTop of page Cultural Control
Fire can be used as a control device as it can reduce the soil seedbank by killing seeds or inducing germination which can then be chemically controlled (Campbell et al., 1990). Note that in cultivation, fire has been used to stimulate regeneration in older plantations. A single hot fire favours regeneration of mature acacia stands (Ellis and Graley, 1987). After a fire in Sri Lanka, up to 32,000 seedlings per hectare were found and at two years of age had an average height of 3-4m (Weeraratne, 1964).
Weber, 2003 reports mechanical control by ringbarking or digging out plants.
Methods of chemical control are outlined by Delabraze and Valette (1979), Fagg and Flinn (1983), Fagg and Cameron (1989) and Campbell et al. (1990) but they are expensive. Weber 2003 lists approaches including chemical control by basal stem treatment, stump treatment or foliar application.
Biological control methods are available but are not appropriate in regions where other acacias are in commercial use, eg. black wattle (A. mearnsii) for tannin (Stubbings, 1977).
Cut stumps need to be treated with herbicides to prevent resprouting and should be kept less than 15 cm in height while follow up removal of emerging seedlings, control of coppice growth etc should occur after large clearing attempts (Weber, 2003).
ReferencesTop of page
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Hopmans P; Douglas LA; Chalk PM, 1983. Nitrogen fixation associated with Acacia dealbata Link. seedlings as estimated by the acetylene reduction assay. Australian Journal of Botany, 31(4):331-339; 5 fig., 2 tab.; 29 ref.
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Kube PD; Brown DR, 1996. Acacia dealbata Establishment Techniques. In: Kube PD, Brooks SJ, eds. Evaluation of Acacia dealbata as a Plantation Species in Tasmania. Forestry Tasmania and Forests and Forest Industry Council.
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Lindenmayer DB; Boyle S; Burgman MA; McDonald D; Tomkins B, 1994. The sugar and nitrogen content of the gums of Acacia species in the mountain ash and alpine ash forests of central Victoria and its potential implications for exudivorous arboreal marsupials. Australian Journal of Ecology, 19(2):169-177; 51 ref.
Logan AF, 1987. Australian acacias for pulpwood. In: Turnbull JW, ed. Australian Acacias in Developing Countries. Proceedings of an International Workshop, Gympie, Qld., Australia, 4-7 August 1986. ACIAR Proceedings No. 16:89-94
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