Sickle wattle
Acacia falcata5.JPG
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Clade: Mimosoideae
Genus: Acacia
A. falcata
Binomial name
Acacia falcata
Range of Acacia falcata

Acacia falcata, commonly known as sickle wattle and by other vernacular names including sally,[2] is a perennial shrub or tree native to eastern Australia, which reaches five metres in height and has cream flowers in early winter. It gets its common and scientific name for its sickle-shaped leaves. Hardy and adaptable to cultivation, it is used in regeneration of bushland.


German botanist Carl Ludwig Willdenow was the first to officially describe the sickle wattle in 1806,[3] although his countryman Johann Christoph Wendland had given it the name Mimosa obliqua in 1798, this was deemed an illegitimate name.[4] The species name is derived from the Latin word falx "sickle". Some common names for it are burra, sally, sickle-shaped acacia and silver-leaved wattle.[1]


leaves and developing buds

Found as a shrub or small tree from 2 to 5 m (6.6 to 16.4 ft) high, Acacia falcata has grey or black bark. Like most wattles it has phyllodes rather than leaves. These are a pale green or grey-green and sickle-shaped, measuring 7–19 cm (2.8–7.5 in) in length, by 0.9–4 cm (0.35–1.57 in) wide with a prominent mid vein. The small round flowers are cream or pale-yellow and appear in early winter from April to August. These are followed by thin seed pods which are 4.5–12 cm (1.8–4.7 in) long and 0.5–0.8 cm (0.20–0.31 in) wide.[5] The pods mature from September to December.[6]

Distribution and habitat

The range is from Queensland south through eastern New South Wales to Bermagui on the south coast.[5] It grows predominantly on shale soils in open forest,[7] and is associated with such trees as Eucalyptus paniculata, E. longifolia and E. tereticornis.[8] Naturalised, it has been recorded in Java in Indonesia, and in North Island in New Zealand.[1]


Plants live for five to twenty years in the wild, and are killed by bushfire. The seed is released in December, and dispersed by wind. It is stored in the soil, although it is unclear how related germination is to bushfire. Seed can germinate in disturbed areas.[8]

Acacia falcata is the host plant for the Imperial Hairstreak (Jalmenus evagoras).[9] One field study recovered 98 species of bug (hemiptera) from A. falcata across its range.[10]

Cultivation and uses

Acacia falcata is adaptable to a wide range of soils in cultivation, and its attractive foliage is a horticultural feature.[6] It is propagated by seed which must be pretreated with boiling water before it is able to germinate. It is easy to grow given a good sunlit position and good drainage, and is used in revegetation.[11]

Australian indigenous people use the bark to make a liniment for treating ailments of the skin.[12]A. falcata is excellent for stabilizing barren sand. The bark is important in the tanning industry.[13]

The 1889 book 'The Useful Native Plants of Australia’ records that common names included "Hickory" and "Sally" and that Indigenous Australians of the Cumberland and Camden areas of New South Wales referred to it as "Weetjellan" It also notes that "This bark, which contains much tannin, was used by the Aboriginals [sic.] of the counties of Cumberland and Camden to stupefy fish, and to make embrocations for the cure of cutaneous diseases."[14]


  1. ^ a b c "Acacia falcata". ILDIS LegumeWeb. International Legume Database & Information Service. 2010. Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
  2. ^ A sallow is a shrubby willow (OED).
  3. ^ "Acacia falcata Willd". Australian Plant Name Index (APNI), IBIS database. Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian Government.
  4. ^ "Mimosa obliqua J.C.Wendl". Australian Plant Name Index (APNI), IBIS database. Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian Government.
  5. ^ a b PG Kodela. "New South Wales Flora Online: Acacia falcata". Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust, Sydney, Australia.
  6. ^ a b Elliot, Rodger W.; Jones, David L.; Blake, Trevor (1985). Encyclopaedia of Australian Plants Suitable for Cultivation. 2. Port Melbourne: Lothian Press. pp. 48–49. ISBN 978-0-85091-143-5.
  7. ^ Fairley A, Moore P (2000). Native Plants of the Sydney District: An Identification Guide (2nd ed.). Kenthurst, NSW: Kangaroo Press. p. 128. ISBN 978-0-7318-1031-4.
  8. ^ a b Benson, Doug; McDougall, Lyn (1996). "Ecology of Sydney Plant Species Part 4: Dicotyledon family Fabaceae" (PDF). Cunninghamia. 4 (4): 552–752. ISSN 0727-9620. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-06-23. Retrieved 2011-08-17.
  9. ^ A. Wells; W. W. K. Houston (2001). Hesperioidea, Papilionoidea. Collingwood, Victoria: CSIRO Publishing. p. 264. ISBN 978-0-643-06700-4.
  10. ^ Andrew, Nigel R.; Hughes, Lesley (2005). "Diversity and assemblage structure of phytophagous Hemiptera along a latitudinal gradient: predicting the potential impacts of climate change" (PDF). Global Ecology and Biogeography. 14 (3): 249–62. doi:10.1111/j.1466-822x.2005.00149.x. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-04-02.
  11. ^ Wrigley, John; Fagg, Murray (1996). "Acacia falcata". Canberra, ACT: Australian National Botanic Gardens. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
  12. ^ Robinson, Les (1993). "Aboriginal Uses of Plants Around Sydney". Archived from the original on August 30, 2007. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
  13. ^ Ferdinand von Mueller (1884). Select Extra-tropical Plants Readily Eligible for Industrial Culture Or Naturalization: with indications of their native countries and some of their uses. G.S. Davis. p. 5. acacia falcata uses.
  14. ^ J. H. Maiden (1889). The useful native plants of Australia : Including Tasmania. Turner and Henderson, Sydney.