Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Acacia saligna
(coojong)

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Datasheet

Acacia saligna (coojong)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 30 November 2021
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Acacia saligna
  • Preferred Common Name
  • coojong
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Acacia saligna, a fast-growing, drought-tolerant nitrogen-fixing tree from southwestern Western Australia, has been widely planted through the world’s drylands, especially around the Mediterranean basin, for fodder, fuelwood, s...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Tree of Acacia saligna showing shrubby habit.  Mt. Ragged, Western Australia.
TitleTree
CaptionTree of Acacia saligna showing shrubby habit. Mt. Ragged, Western Australia.
CopyrightM.W. McDonald/CSIRO FFP
Tree of Acacia saligna showing shrubby habit.  Mt. Ragged, Western Australia.
TreeTree of Acacia saligna showing shrubby habit. Mt. Ragged, Western Australia.M.W. McDonald/CSIRO FFP
Flowering branch of Acacia saligna showing shrubby habit.  Cape Riche, Western  Australia.
TitleFlower
CaptionFlowering branch of Acacia saligna showing shrubby habit. Cape Riche, Western Australia.
CopyrightM.W. McDonald/CSIRO FFP
Flowering branch of Acacia saligna showing shrubby habit.  Cape Riche, Western  Australia.
FlowerFlowering branch of Acacia saligna showing shrubby habit. Cape Riche, Western Australia.M.W. McDonald/CSIRO FFP
Seed pods of Acacia saligna showing shrubby habit.  Killcare, NSW,  Australia.
TitleSeed pods
CaptionSeed pods of Acacia saligna showing shrubby habit. Killcare, NSW, Australia.
CopyrightM.W. McDonald/CSIRO FFP
Seed pods of Acacia saligna showing shrubby habit.  Killcare, NSW,  Australia.
Seed podsSeed pods of Acacia saligna showing shrubby habit. Killcare, NSW, Australia.M.W. McDonald/CSIRO FFP

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Acacia saligna (Labill.) H. L. Wendl.

Preferred Common Name

  • coojong

Other Scientific Names

  • Acacia bracteata Maiden & Blakeley
  • Acacia cyanophylla Lindl.
  • Acacia lindleyi Meissner
  • Mimosa saligna Labill.
  • Racosperma salignum (Labill.) Pedley

International Common Names

  • English: blue-leaved willow; golden willow; Port Jackson wattle
  • French: acacia blue; mimosa bleuté

Local Common Names

  • Australia: blue-leafed wattle; coojong; golden-wreath wattle; orange wattle; Port Jackson acacia; Port Jackson willow; Port Jackson willow; weeping wattle; Western Australian golden wattle
  • Eritrea: amharic
  • Germany: Blaublättrige Akazie; Weiden-Akazie
  • Italy: mimosa a foglie blu

EPPO code

  • ACACY (Acacia cyanophylla)
  • ACASA (Acacia saligna)

Summary of Invasiveness

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Acacia saligna, a fast-growing, drought-tolerant nitrogen-fixing tree from southwestern Western Australia, has been widely planted through the world’s drylands, especially around the Mediterranean basin, for fodder, fuelwood, sand stabilization, as a windbreak and as an ornamental garden or street tree and for use in revegetation and sand dune stabilization, particularly following sand mining. The species received a very high PIER risk score of 17, where any score of 6 or higher indicates that the species poses a high risk of becoming a serious pest. It is also listed in the Global Compendium of Weeds as an agricultural weed, cultivation escape, noxious weed and garden thug. Referring to invasion of threatened Cape Floristic vegetation in South Africa, it was called ‘one of the worst woody invaders, a plant that has run amuck in a threatened biome, rich in endemic plant species’. The species continues to be planted, especially in North Africa and West Asia, but caution is now advised, as prolific seed production, ready coppicing and suckering ability and rapid growth on even the poorest of sites make it a high-risk species. Further research is needed to assess the extent of its invasiveness in introduced places, damage to native biodiversity and methods of control and prevention.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Fabales
  •                         Family: Fabaceae
  •                             Subfamily: Mimosoideae
  •                                 Genus: Acacia
  •                                     Species: Acacia saligna

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Acacia (family Fabaceae, subfamily Mimosoideae) represents a cosmopolitan genus of 1030 species previously contained in three subgenera: subgenus Acacia, subgenus Aculeiferum and subgenus Phyllodinae (Maslin, 1995). In the newly IBC adopted circumscription of Acacia, the type of Acacia changes from the African/Asian species, A. scorpioides (=A. nilotica), to the Australian species, A. penninervis. The nomenclatural consequences at the infrageneric level that flow from this are: (1) the name subgenus Acacia now applies to the ‘Australian group’ formerly known as Acacia subgenus Phyllodineae (Maslin, 2008) and (2) species in Africa and the Americas previously referred as Acacia are now treated under Senegalia, Vachellia, Acaciella and Mariosousa. For further information: see Jawad et al. (2000), Maslin et al. (2003)Orchard and Maslin (2003), Seigler and Ebinger (2005), Kodela and Wilson (2006), Seigler et al. (2006).

Acacia saligna belongings to the section Acacia (syn. Phyllodineae) of the subgenus Acacia (syn. Racosperma). Section Acacia, which may soon have some further species removed, currently has 408 species (Flora of Australia, 2001). They are characterized by having a single vein in the phyllodes and flowers arranged in globular heads (Flora of Australia, 2001).

Acacia saligna has four ‘variants’, one of which has been widely known as A. cyanophylla. It is this ‘variant’ that has commonly been used as an ornamental, in roadside, farm plantings and landscape restoration projects. The other three variants are also in cultivation.

The common names ‘Port Jackson wattle’ and ‘Port Jackson willow’ should be rejected as the Internationally Preferred Common Name because it is not native to Port Jackson or even eastern Australia, but to southwestern Western Australia. Port Jackson is the harbour that Sydney, the state capital of NSW is built around. Its use as the common trade name in South Africa should be discouraged (Puttock pers. obs.).

The authority of A. bracteate is Maiden and Blakely; Blakely is commonly misspelled as Blakeley.

Description

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The following description is adapted from Vercoe and McDonald (1987), Whibley and Symon (1992), Crompton (1992), Cronk and Fuller (1995) and Fox (1995):

Acacia saligna is a dense and multi-stemmed, thornless, spreading shrub or single stemmed small tree 2-6 m tall, but up to 9 m in height where introduced. Where it has become naturalised however, it is commonly a dense bush which may be wider than the plant is high. The bark is smooth and grey to red-brown on branchlets, becoming dark grey and fissured with age. Leaves are phyllodes, dark green to blue-green with conspicuous midribs, long and narrow to lanceolate and 8-25 cm long, straight or sickle-shaped and sometimes pendulous. Phyllodes may also be prominently broader at the base. There is a solitary gland on the upper margin of the phyllode, circular or oblong, 1-2 mm in diameter. Inflorescence racemose, flower heads globular, 5-10 mm in diameter, containing 25-55 (up to 78) bright yellow, five-parted flowers. The pods are narrow, 4-6 mm wide and usually 8-12 cm long, usually contracted between the seeds and with an undulate surface. The seed is 5-6 mm long x 3-3.5 mm wide, dark brown to black and shiny, with 14,000-25,000 seeds per kg.

Plant Type

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Broadleaved
Perennial
Seed propagated
Shrub
Tree
Vegetatively propagated
Woody

Distribution

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Acacia saligna is native to southwestern Western Australia, where it is widespread and locally abundant. It has become naturalized in South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania (Flora of Australia, 2001) and elsewhere around the world, escaping cultivation and in cases becoming a serious weed, as in South Africa, where the species is a Category 2 Invader (Henderson, 2001; Macdonald et al., 2003; Weeds of Australia, 2016). Its global distribution is listed in the table.

In the Caribbean, the species was reportedly cultivated in St. Croix in 1929 (Britton and Wilson, 1925) but it was not listed in Kairo et al. (2003)’s work on invasive threats to the Caribbean, nor was it found in Broome et al. (2007)’s flora in the Eastern Caribbean. Several specimens were collected in Puerto Rico by Liogier in the 1980s (US National Herbarium), however, the species is cultivated there (Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012). Considering the paucity of specimens A. saligna appears not to be a widespread species in this area, but further research is needed.

Although the species is known to grow in parts of South America and Asia Pacific, it was not listed in Funk et al. (2007)’s flora of the Guiana Shield, Wagner et al. (2015a)’s work on Hawaii, Wagner and Lorence (2015)’s work on the Marquesas Islands, Wagner et al. (2015b)’s work on Micronesia, or in Kress et al. (2003)’s work on Myanmar.

Distribution Table

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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.

Last updated: 30 Nov 2021
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Planted Reference Notes

Africa

AlgeriaPresentIntroducedInvasive
AngolaPresent
BotswanaPresentIntroducedPlanted
BurundiPresentIntroducedPlanted
Cabo VerdePresent
ChadPresentIntroducedPlanted
EgyptPresentIntroduced
EritreaPresentIntroducedCultivated
EthiopiaPresentIntroducedInvasive
GambiaPresentIntroducedPlanted
KenyaPresentIntroducedNaturalized
LibyaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
MauritiusPresentIntroduced
MoroccoPresentIntroduced
MozambiquePresentIntroducedNaturalized
NamibiaPresentIntroducedNaturalized
NigerPresentIntroducedPlanted
SenegalPresentIntroducedPlanted
SomaliaPresentIntroducedPlanted
South AfricaPresentIntroduced1833Invasive
SudanPresentIntroducedPlanted
TanzaniaPresentIntroducedNaturalized
TunisiaPresentIntroduced
UgandaPresentIntroducedNaturalized
ZambiaPresentIntroducedNaturalized
ZimbabwePresentIntroduced

Asia

IndiaPresentIntroduced
-GujaratPresentPlanted
-HaryanaPresentPlanted
-KarnatakaPresentPlanted
-MaharashtraPresentPlanted
-PunjabPresentPlanted
-RajasthanPresentPlanted
-Tamil NaduPresentPlanted
-Uttar PradeshPresentPlanted
IranPresentIntroduced
IraqPresentIntroducedNaturalized
IsraelPresentIntroducedNaturalized
JordanPresentIntroducedNaturalized
KuwaitPresentIntroducedPlanted
PakistanPresentIntroducedCultivated in Rawalpindi, Peshawar etc.
Saudi ArabiaPresentIntroducedNaturalized
SyriaPresentIntroduced
TurkeyPresentIntroduced
YemenPresentIntroducedNaturalized

Europe

CroatiaPresent
CyprusPresentIntroducedInvasive
FrancePresentIntroduced
-CorsicaPresentIntroduced
GreecePresentIntroduced
ItalyPresentIntroduced
-SardiniaPresent
-SicilyPresent
MaltaPresentIntroduced
PortugalPresentIntroducedInvasive
-AzoresPresent
SpainPresentIntroducedInvasive
-Balearic IslandsPresent
-Canary IslandsPresent, WidespreadIntroducedNaturalized

North America

MexicoPresentIntroduced
Puerto RicoPresentIntroduced
U.S. Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedSt. Croix
United StatesPresent, LocalizedIntroduced
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedUncommon

Oceania

AustraliaPresentNative and Introduced
-New South WalesPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasive
-QueenslandPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasive
-South AustraliaPresent, WidespreadIntroducedNaturalized?Naturalized in parts?
-TasmaniaPresentIntroducedNaturalized?Naturalized?; ?garden thug?
-VictoriaPresent, WidespreadIntroducedNaturalized?Naturalized in parts?
-Western AustraliaPresent, WidespreadNative
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced
New ZealandPresentIntroducedNaturalized

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroduced
BoliviaPresentIntroduced
ChilePresentIntroducedInvasivePlanted
PeruPresentIntroducedPlanted
UruguayPresentIntroduced

History of Introduction and Spread

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Acacia saligna has been introduced to southern and eastern Australia and is now naturalized from South Australia and Victoria to southeast Queensland from escapes from plantings for sand mine reclamation work in northern New South Wales (Stanley and Ross, 1983; Flora of Australia, 2001). It has been widely introduced to arid and semi-arid sites with tropical, subtropical or Mediterranean climates throughout the world for soil conservation, for fuelwood and fodder, for tannins and gums and as an ornamental. It is likely that there are exact records for dates of introduction, beginning with its introduction to South Africa in about 1833 (Cronk and Fuller, 1995) and ending with reforestation species trials in the 1980s and 1990s. It has naturalized in many of these countries, notably in Mediterranean basin, in South Africa and California, USA, but it is considered to be an invasive weed only in South Africa, more recently in the Mediterranean and it is noted to be spreading rapidly in South Australia. It is one of the most invasive woody weeds in Spain (Sanz-Elorza et al., 2001). In Portugal, it invades sand dunes and is a risk in southern and central coastal regions (Marchante and Marchante, 2005). In Cyprus, it has naturalized and ‘is the most serious invasive species in Cyprus, threatening many natural habitats, invading forests, maquis, gangue, phrygana, marshy areas and agricultural land, becoming a serious weed’ (Hadjikyriakou and Hadjisterkotis, 2005). However, since its introduction to coastal sand dunes in Israel, A. saligna recorded a mean annual increase in area of only 3% after 34 years, with a 20 year ‘arrival stage’ and 8 years of ‘establishment stage’ (Bar et al., 2004). There are also unconfirmed reports of it being an invasive species in Chile, where it is known to be introduced (PIER, 2016).

Although not included in Wagner and Lorence (2015)’s  work on the Marquesas Islands, A. saligna has been reported present there by PIER (2016), where it has the potential to become invasive; monitoring and further research is needed.

Risk of Introduction

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Being a hardy species valued for its uses in sand and soil stabilization, as a windbreak, in wood production and as an ornamental, it is highly likely that further intentional introduction of A. saligna will occur. Areas particularly at risk are those where it is as yet uncommon, notably potentially sensitive areas such as Caribbean and the western Pacific. The species received a very high PIER risk score of 17, where any score over 6 should be rejected for import (PIER, 2016); it is also a Declared Invader (category 2) species in South Africa (Henderson 2001; ISSG, 2016 and received a high-risk score in a weed risk assessment for South Australia (Melland and Virtue, 2002). Considering that many other members of Acacia are invasive, A. saligna should be assumed a high-risk species for other similar areas. Steps should then be taken to highlight the risks posed by invasion of A. saligna, also using its old but still commonly used synonym, A. cyanophylla (Le Houérou, 2002).

Habitat

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In its native Western Australia, A. saligna grows in a variety of habitats, including poor sandy soils, clayey soil and sandplains, although in arid areas, it is restricted to creeks and rivers; it has also been found growing in deep sands associated with watercourses such as those along the southern West Australian coast and along the base of granite boulders in the wheatbelt and coastal dune systems (Flora of Australia, 2001).

In places where it has been introduced, including places where it has become weedy, noxious and invasive, A. saligna often remains restricted to conditions similar to its native range; in South Africa, for example, the species is confined mainly to the coastal plains with more than 250 mm annual rainfall (Cronk and Fuller, 1995). In Bolivia, the species has been reported growing in dry valleys of the Bolivian Andes, around 2500-3000 m (Bolivia Catalogue, 2016). In Israel, where the species was recently assessed for its invasiveness, the spread of A. saligna reportedly was ‘dictated primarily by optimal soil moisture regime’ and ‘invaded disturbed habitats, such as sand quarries and depressions between dunes, but never shifting sand dunes’ (Bar et al., 2004).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
Terrestrial ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ManagedManaged forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedManaged forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ManagedDisturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedDisturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ManagedRail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ManagedUrban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanks Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalWetlands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalScrub / shrublands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalScrub / shrublands Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalScrub / shrublands Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalDeserts Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalDeserts Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalDeserts Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalArid regions Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalArid regions Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalArid regions Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
LittoralCoastal areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
LittoralCoastal areas Present, no further details Natural
LittoralCoastal dunes Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
LittoralCoastal dunes Present, no further details Natural
LittoralCoastal dunes Present, no further details Productive/non-natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

Acacia saligna has a chromosome number of 2n=26 (Crompton, 1992). El-Lakany (1987; 1988) noted wide phenotypic variation and suggested that useful gains might be obtained through breeding. Four main ‘variants’ have long been recognized in Australia (Maslin and McDonald, 2004); two of these were noted in South Africa (Le Houérou, 2002) ‘A’ with an intricate bushy habit, long narrow phyllodes and a high leaf:stem ratio thus more suitable for forage production, whereas type ‘B’ has a more erect habit, broad phyllodes and low leaf:stem ration, suitable for firewood production.

Reproductive Biology

Acacia saligna reproduces almost entirely by seed and is an outcrossing species. Like most legume seed, the seeds of A. saligna can remain dormant in the soil for considerable periods of time, up to 5 years. As the seed coat is water impermeable, dormancy can be broken by heat caused by fire, which will rupture the lens and allow water uptake; the seed will then germinate rapidly (Cronk and Fuller, 1995). A. saligna is capable of prolific seed production, often in the first year or two after germination depending on site; 1 m2 of canopy can reportedly produce 10,500 seeds per year (Cronk and Fuller, 1995). Over time, it builds up an enormous seed bank under dense stands, up to 46,000 as reported in South Africa and Israel (Cohen et al., 2008). With a short juvenile period (less than 5 years), this seedbank can be restored soon after a disturbance (Mehta, 2000).

The species is also capable of regenerating by root suckers and coppices freely and a single tree is capable of forming a clump or small colony (Duke, 1983; Whibley and Symon, 1992). The seedlings are quite hardy and have an extensive root system (Cronk and Fuller, 1995). When established, therefore, A. saligna poses serious threat to native flora by forming dense canopies and outcompeting other vegetation for nutrients, space and sunlight.

Physiology and phenology

Acacia saligna grows quickly in favourable conditions, often reaching 8 m tall with a spread as great as its height in 4-5 years. Of the four variants, only ‘cyanophylla’ coppices well (the other three produce vigorous suckers) and annual wood yields vary from 1.5-10 m3/ha (National Academy of Sciences, 1980). In the arid zone of Tunisia and Libya, A. saligna produces fuelwood at an annual rate of up to 3500 kg dry-wood/ha on deep sandy loam alluvia receiving an average of 150 mm annual precipitation and some runoff (El-Lakany, 1987). Annual harvesting for biomass production in Egypt was found to be optimal in drip-irrigated trials where production of foliage was 12-13 t/ha in the first year and increased with age (El-Lakany, 1988). In trials in a sub-tropical area in southeast Queensland, A. saligna attained an average height of 6.2 m after only 41 months but slowed down substantially in the following year to average 6.7 m at 4.5 years (Ryan and Bell, 1989; 1991).

In areas where A. saligna has become naturalized, it is commonly a dense bush which may be wider than the plant is high. The bark is smooth and grey to red-brown on branchlets, becoming dark grey and fissured with age.

Longevity

As with the majority of Acacias, A. saligna is relatively short-lived (10-20 years).

Associations

The tree nodulates with certain strains of Rhizobium (Roughley, 1987) and in common with many other acacias, it forms associations with VA mycorrhizal fungi (Reddell and Warren, 1987). It is efficient in fixing atmospheric nitrogen (El-Lakany, 1987), though the ability of A. saligna to fix nitrogen is greatly reduced by drought, waterlogging, shading or defoliation (Nakos, 1977).

Observations of A. saligna in Western Australia support the hypothesis that the extrafloral nectaries at the base of the phyllodes provide nutrients or water to ants, which in turn protect against herbivory. Most insects collected were herbivores along with the spatial and temporal patterns of nectary secretion (very active on new leaves and in the spring and autumn) were consistent with maximizing the protective function of ants (Majer, 1979), with 19 species of aggressive ants collected from A. saligna in the native range.

Environmental Requirements

Acacia saligna is commonly found in areas with yearly rainfall greater than 380 mm and a dry summer, with low to high humidity the rest of the year (Cronk and Fuller, 1995). The species is capable of growing on sand dunes and in the hollows between sand hills, is drought hardy and can tolerate salt winds (Flora of Australia, 2001; FAO, 2016).

In Australia, A. saligna has its main occurrence in the warm, subhumid and humid climatic zones, but it extends into the higher rainfall parts of the semiarid zone. The mean maximum temperatures of the hottest month show a considerable range from about 23°C on parts of the south coast to nearly 30°C at Perth, to 32-36°C for northern and inland locations. The mean minimum of the coolest month shows a smaller range, being mainly within the limits of 4.5-9°C. Most situations on the coast are frost-free, especially from Perth northwards, but inland, there is an average of one to six frosts per year. Where introduced, A. saligna exhibits frost sensitivity, and damage is likely to be severe if the temperature falls below -4oC. A. saligna generally grows poorly in tropical areas as compared to other acacia species, except at high altitudes.

The mean annual rainfall for the native range humid zone is 750-1000 mm, with an abrupt drop for the subhumid zone to 450-500 mm and as low as 280 mm in the semiarid zone (Doran and Turnbull, 1997), but where it normally receives additional run-on water (Crompton, 1992). A. saligna occurs on many soil types, especially poor and calcareous sands, but also moderately heavy clays and on a range of podzolics. Trees are common on alkaline, infertile sandy soils (Simmons, 1981). It mainly grows on gentle undulating topography and coastal sand plains, but extends to a wide variety of situations from swampy sites and river banks to small, rocky hills (often granitic) and the slopes of the coastal ranges (Doran and Turnbull, 1997). It can tolerate waterlogging and salt winds and altitudes from sea level to about 325 m elevation in its native range, but much higher where introduced (Duke, 1983; Doran and Turnbull, 1997).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Tolerated < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Tolerated < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
B - Dry (arid and semi-arid) Preferred < 860mm precipitation annually
BS - Steppe climate Preferred > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
BW - Desert climate Preferred < 430mm annual precipitation
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Tolerated Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
40 35

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) -4 -1
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 13 21
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 26 36
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 2 10

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration010number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall2801210mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Bimodal
Uniform
Winter

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free
  • impeded
  • seasonally waterlogged

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile
  • saline
  • shallow
  • sodic

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Aleurodicus dugesii
Armillaria luteobubalina Pathogen Plants|Roots
Armillaria mellea Pathogen Plants|Roots
Armillaria tabescens Pathogen Plants|Roots
Glomerella cingulata Pathogen Plants|Whole plant
Hemiberlesia lataniae
Mundulla yellows
Odontothrips confusus
Pinnaspis strachani Parasite Plants|Whole plant
Uromycladium tepperianum Pathogen South Africa

Notes on Natural Enemies

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Early interest in the protection of A. saligna as a valuable dryland plantation species for fuel or fodder is now replaced by the assessment of species-specific pests and pathogens for use in controlling A. saligna as an invasive weed. For example, it was noticed that older plants are susceptible to the gall rust Uromycladium tepperianum and various gall-exploiting insects. More than 90% of A. saligna trees bear conspicuous woody galls in parts of the native range in Western Australia (van den Berg, 1978). U. tepperianum has been used successfully as a biological control agent for A. saligna in South Africa (de Selincourt, 1992) and Morris (1999) recorded a reduction in populations to 5-10% of original tree densities at eight sites after 7-8 years.

Arthropod natural enemies of A. saligna in Western Australia have been studied by van den Berg (1980a, 1980b, 1980c), and the larvae of 36 species of moths and butterflies were found, with those damaging the phyllodes being the most common. The adults or larvae of 55 species of beetles and weevils and the adults and/or nymphs of 40 species of cicadas, plant hoppers, plant lice, scale insects and bugs were also recorded, with those feeding on sap and twigs most abundant.

Other pests noted as attacking A. saligna elsewhere in the world are Scirothrips dorsalis producing 'bunchy-top' symptoms in a glasshouse in Queensland, Australia (Ashwath and Houston, 1990), Odontothrips confusus in Israel (Strassen and Halperin, 1990), the oleander scale, Aspidiotus nerii, and its predators in Turkey (Karaca et al., 1999), Lindingaspis rossi and a parasite (Habrolepis sp.) in Egypt (Swailem et al., 1980) and Icerya purchasi in Ethiopia (Getu, 1996). Termites may also cause serious problems in tropical countries (Michaelides, 1979) and rodents sometimes gnaw and damage the roots.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

The species grows in a variety of habitats including sandy soils, creek and riversides and along coastal dune systems and its seeds may be dispersed by water, or fall directly to the ground and transported further by people (Cronk and Fuller, 1995; Doran and Turnbull, 1997; Flora of Australia, 2001; FAO, 2016).

Vector Transmission

In South Africa, the species can be spread by birds such as doves and starlings (Cronk and Fuller, 1995). In Australia, the species is also known to be dispersed by ants (Holmes, 1990).

Accidental Introduction

It is reported that seed can be spread in sand transported for road and dam construction (Cronk and Fuller, 1995).

Intentional Introduction

All long-distant movement of A. saligna has been intentional, introduced for over 150 years for protection (soil conservation, dune stabilization, erosion control), production (fuelwood, fodder, tannins) and aesthetics (as an ornamental garden and street tree).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Digestion and excretionBirds Yes Cronk and Fuller (1995)
Escape from confinement or garden escapeSpecies is known to escape cultivation Yes Yes Doran and Turnbull (1997); Weeds of Australia (2016)
Flooding and other natural disastersAlong watercourses Yes Cronk and Fuller (1995)
ForestrySpecies has been extensively cultivated outside its native range, both for its horticultural value, for fuel/fodder and as a source of tannin Yes Cronk and Fuller (1995); Duke (1983); Doran and Turnbull (1997); Weeds of Australia (2016)
Habitat restoration and improvementSpecies has been introduced beyond its native range for its usefulness for binding moving sand, reclaiming eroded hillsides and wastelands and for stabilizing drift sands; useful for windbreaks, amenity plantings, beautification projects and roadside stabilization in semi-arid regions Yes Cronk and Fuller (1995); Duke (1983)
Hedges and windbreaks Yes Cronk and Fuller (1995)
Industrial purposesSpecies was introduced to South Africa for production of tannin dye Yes Doran and Turnbull (1997)
Landscape improvementSpecies has been introduced beyond its native range as an ornamental and for its usefulness for binding moving sand, reclaiming eroded hillsides and wastelands and for stabilizing drift sands; useful for windbreaks, amenity plantings, beautification projects and roadside stabilization in semi-arid regions Yes Yes Duke (1983)
Ornamental purposesSpread as a street tree Yes Yes Cronk and Fuller (1995)

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Soil, sand and gravelWith sand for construction. Species can produce an enormous seed back which can remain dormant in soil for 5 years Yes Cronk and Fuller (1995); Duke (1983); Cohen et al. (2008)
WaterSpecies grows along rivers, creeks and coastal dunes. Seeds mostly fall directly to the ground and may be transported further by water or people Yes Doran and Turnbull (1997); Flora of Australia (2001); Cronk and Fuller (1995)
Clothing, footwear and possessionsSeeds mostly fall directly to the ground and may be transported further by water or people Yes Yes Cronk and Fuller (1995)
Host and vector organisms Seeds may be bird-dispersed (starling and doves in South Africa) or ant-dispersed in Australia Yes Yes Cronk and Fuller (1995); Holmes (1990)

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Environment (generally) Positive and negative

Economic Impact

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Acacia saligna continues to be promoted as a multipurpose tree species, mostly as a source of firewood and fodder even during droughts and for soil conservation. By 1987, over 200,000 ha of A. saligna plantations had been planted in North Africa and a few thousand in southeastern Spain and West Asia (Le Houérou, 2002), based on the observed positive economic impacts for resource production.

Environmental Impact

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Impact on habitats

Acacia saligna poses a serious environmental threat to places where it has been introduced. The species forms dense monospecific stands and thickets that invade and displace native vegetation by preventing their regeneration (Duke, 1983; Cronk and Fuller, 1995; Doran and Turnbull, 1997; Flora of Australia, 2001). Cronk and Fuller (1995) also report that ‘the invasion of the coastal lowlands of the [Australian] Cape by A. saligna results in an increase in the nitrogen status of the fynbos during the early stages of invasion. This may have important consequence for adjacent native vegetation, possibly leading to changes in species composition and structure.’ In addition to altering vital ecosystem processes through increased nitrogen levels, A. saligna also causes a reduction in waterflow in streams, rivers, waterways and irrigation channels through incremental water use and also alters the fire regime by producing large soil seedbanks and more abundant biomass (Cronk and Fuller, 1995; Doran and Turnbull, 1997; Jovanovic et al., 2009; Hadjikyriakou and Hadjisterkotis, 2005; ISSG, 2016). In South Africa, cases of invasion resulted an increase of 50% in fuel load, ‘with disastrous consequences: increase in fire hazard (increased rate of ignition), faster burns and greater intensity resulting in greater damage to the ecosystem’ (Macdonald et al., 2003).

It is a major environmental weed in South Africa. The phyllodes have a greater nitrogen content that many native species in South Africa, thus leading to increasing nitrogen levels in the soil in invaded areas (Cronk and Fuller, 1995) and the observed increase in total soil nitrogen and soil organic matter under A. saligna and after clearance was explained by the slow decomposition of the litter (Yelenik et al., 2007). The alteration of nitrogen availability by acacias was shown to increase growth rates of the weedy grass Ehrharta calycina, suggesting that secondary invasions by nitrophilous weedy species may occur after clearing nitrogen-fixing alien species in the fynbos (Yelenik et al., 2007). The foliage has also been found to have allelopathic qualities when tested on maize (Zea mays) and rice (Oryza sativa) germination (El-Baha, 2003). Tilstone et al. (1998) observed significant differences in the growth of A. saligna in different native vegetation communities in Spain, but also that there were environmental benefits from introducing fast-growing exotic trees to control the rampant soil erosion that continues in the region.

Impact on biodiversity

Acacia saligna was noted as the most troublesome invasive weed in the Cape Floritic region in South Africa (Wood and Morris, 2007) and was recorded as threatening several IUCN listed threatened species in South Africa: Chondropetalum acockii [Elegia acockii], Gladiolus aureus, Leucadendron verticillatum, Restio acockii, Serruria ciliata (Cronk and Fuller, 1995), though it may be expected that this threat has reduced since the successful biological control programme.

Risk and Impact Factors

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Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Reproduces asexually
  • Has high genetic variability
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of fire regime
  • Modification of hydrology
  • Modification of nutrient regime
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Allelopathic
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses

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In southwest Western Australia, native A. saligna is a successful farm tree for reduction of water tables and mitigation of salinity, provision of shade and shelter, and reduction in farm nutrient run-off. It is well-suited to heavy saline and waterlogged clay soils where it gives fast growth, excellent survival and large crown growth (Bennett and George, 1993). A. saligna has been successfully established in Western Australia by direct sowing in regions with annual rainfall as low as 350-500 mm (Scheltema, 1992). It is also used elsewhere in Australia for rehabilitation of areas mined for coal and mineral sands (Langkamp, 1987).
 
A. saligna is a versatile hardy plant widely cultivated in North Africa, the Middle East and South America for agroforestry, wasteland utilization and soil conservation purposes (Crompton, 1992). Over 200,000 ha have been planted in North Africa as a fodder source for sheep and goats. In highland Tanzania it is grown for windbreaks, fencing and fuelwood (Kessy, 1987), and in agroforestry systems in Kenya (Droppelmann and Berliner, 2003). Studies in Western Australia have suggested that A. saligna alleys are of use in agroforestry as they encourage beneficial arthropods in cropping systems (Lyons and Majer, 1999).

The wood is used as fuel and charcoal, and A. saligna was among a group of acacias assessed as being reasonably satisfactory for this purpose by Hall (1939). The group gave a charcoal yield of 24% and had medium specific gravity and low tar yield (13.5-17%). The wood has an air dry density of about 600 kg/cubic metre (Marcar et al., 1995). A. saligna wood has been successfully processed into particleboard in Tunisia (El-Lakany, 1987), and elsewhere in the Mediterranean region it is used for vine stakes and small agricultural implements (Michaelides, 1979).
 
A. saligna phyllodes, young shoots, pods and seeds, whether fresh or dry, are protein-rich, non-toxic and palatable to both sheep and goats (Anon, 1955; Michaelides, 1979). However, the phyllodes should not be used as a sole diet for small ruminants (sheep and goats) because of low intake and negative nitrogen balance, caused mainly by high tannin content (Woodward and Reed, 1989; Degen et al., 1995), but it has potential as a supplementary fodder due to its high crude protein content. The fodder value of A. saligna for Barki sheep was evaluated and compared to alfalfa in Egypt (El-Lakany, 1988), and replacing 50% of daily dry matter intake of alfalfa by acacia foliage increased the total digestible nutrients and decreased digestible protein of feed intake, whereas feeding alfalfa alone constitutes a waste of protein, and mixing it improves feeding efficiency. It is especially valuable during the dry season when other forage is scarce, and regrowth on established bushes of A. saligna can be completely grazed-off in autumn without harming the plants. The chemical composition is: dry matter (50-55%), crude protein (12-16%), crude fibre (20-24%), crude fat (6-9%), and ash (10-12%) (El-Lakany, 1987). Analysis of phyllodes from trial plantings in southeast Queensland indicate a moderately low digestibility (36.5% predicted in vivo) but high levels of crude protein (18.3%) (Vercoe, 1989). The low Ca:P ratio of 4:1 should enable efficient use of phosphorus supplements.

Trees were planted in the past for tannin production from the bark, which contains 30% tannin (Hall and Turnbull, 1976). Damaged bark exudes copious amounts of very acidic gum, and such acid-stable gum has promise for use for pickles and other acidic foodstuffs (Michaelides, 1979). The leaves of A. saligna can be used to dye wool a lemon-yellow colour using an alum mordant (Martin, 1974). Seed has also been fed to chicks in Cyprus (Ramadan, 1957), and has been considered as a potential source of human food in Australia (McDonald et al., 2002).

A. saligna is also well known for its protective functions, being widely planted for soil conservation purposes, as a windbreak, to stabilise shifting sand dunes, and in erosion control on slopes and wind-prone areas. It has been used to reclaim old mine spoils, landfill sites and other polluted areas (e.g. Coates, 2005). It is also an attractive ornamental species, and is commonly found in gardens and as a street tree, especially in the Mediterranean basin and the Middle East.

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Fodder/animal feed
  • Forage

Environmental

  • Agroforestry
  • Amenity
  • Boundary, barrier or support
  • Erosion control or dune stabilization
  • Land reclamation
  • Landscape improvement
  • Revegetation
  • Shade and shelter
  • Soil conservation
  • Soil improvement
  • Windbreak

Fuels

  • Charcoal
  • Fuelwood

Human food and beverage

  • Emergency (famine) food

Materials

  • Dye/tanning
  • Gum/resin
  • Wood/timber

Ornamental

  • garden plant

Wood Products

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Charcoal

Roundwood

  • Stakes

Wood-based materials

  • Particleboard

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Acacia saligna is superficially similar to A. pycnantha, but differs significantly by the absence of basal raceme bracts; A. pycnantha also has stouter raceme axes and peduncles, conspicuously attenuate phyllode bases with longer pulvini and smaller glands (Flora of Australia, 2001). The two species also differ significantly in their gum chemistry (Anderson and Bell, 1976). A. saligna is sometimes confused with A. microbotrya and A. rostellifera (with which it is sympatric in coastal habitats), but the pods and seeds of these three species are very different (Maslin, 1974).

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

Because A. saligna produces such a large seedbank that can remain dormant for years and also has the ability to coppice freely, control is difficult, as even a single seed left in the soil could re-infest the entire area. To eliminate the invasive species, every seedling and tree must be physically removed, stumps must be treated with herbicides, the area must be burnt to stimulate germination of the seedbank and the process repeated until all existing and potential seed-producing individuals are removed from the area. It has been estimated that the first 5 years of this process per hectare would cost more than one person-year of labour and in Australia, as of 1995, there were over 425,000 hectares of densely infested fynbos (Cronk and Fuller, 1995; ISSG, 2016).

Physical/Mechanical Control

Physical methods of control are labour- and cost-intensive and include ground level cutting, mattocking and ringbarking, but most important is the removal of the seedbank from the soil, usually by burning or soil solarization (Holmes, 1990; Cohen et al., 2008; ISSG, 2016).

Biological Control

In 1995, Cronk and Fuller reported no fully effective biological control measures but some were under development. Since then, South Africa has reported successful biological control by use of the gall-forming rust fungus Uromycladium tepperianum to reduce population density, tree longevity and reproductive output (Morris, 1999; Wood and Morris, 2007; ISSG, 2016).

Chemical Control

Chemical methods include herbicides painted onto freshly cut stems (ISSG, 2016). This method must be used in combination with physical methods, however, as the seedbank must be reduced to zero by burning and physical removal in order to stop the species from spreading (Cronk and Fuller, 1995).

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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Further research is needed on the extent of the species’ invasiveness in places where it has been introduced but not yet assessed. Methods of biological control are expected to be the most cost-effective (Cronk and Fuller, 1995) and further research in this area is needed.

References

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Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gatewayhttps://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m93f6Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS)http://griis.org/Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

Contributors

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01/03/2017 Updated by:

Dr Christopher F. Puttock, Department of Botany-Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Marianne Jennifer Datiles, Department of Botany-Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Dr Pedro Acevedo-Rodriguez, Department of Botany-Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

10/01/2008 Updated by:

Nick Pasiecznik, Consultant, France

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