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Acacia verticillata

Acacia verticillata (Photo: * )

Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Cladus: Rosids
Cladus: Eurosids I
Ordo: Fabales

Familia: Fabaceae
Subfamilia: Caesalpinioideae
Tribus: Acacieae
Genus: Acacia
Species: Acacia verticillata
Subspecies: A. v. subsp. cephalantha – A. v. subsp. cephalantha – A. v. subsp. ruscifolia – A. v. subsp. verticillata

Acacia verticillata (L'Her.) Willd., 1806

Acacia semiverticillata Knowles & Westc.
Acacia verticillata var. angustifolia Guilf.
Acacia verticillata var. glabra DC.
Acacia verticillata var. latifolia DC.
Acacia verticillata var. robusta L.Neumann
Acacia verticillata var. ulicina L.Neumann
Mimosa verticillata L'Hér.
Phyllodoce verticillata (L'Hér.) Link
Racosperma verticillatum (L'Hér.) Pedley


Acacia verticillata Sieber ex Benth. = Acacia ulicifolia (Salisb.) Court

Native distribution areas:
Acacia verticillata

Continental: Australasia
Regional: Australia
New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria
Introduced into:
California, Colombia, India, New Zealand North, New Zealand South

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition
Primary references

Willdenow, C.L. 1806. Species Plantarum. Editio quarta. Tomus 4. Pars 2. Pp. 634–1157. Impensis G. C. Nauk, Berolini [Berlin]. BHL Biblioteca Digital Reference page. : 4(2):1049.


Govaerts, R. et al. 2020. Acacia verticillata in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published online. Accessed: 2020 Aug 17. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2019. Acacia verticillata. Published online. Accessed: Aug 17 2019. 2019. Acacia verticillata. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published online. Accessed: 17 Aug 2019.
Catalogue of Life: 2021 Annual Checklist
Acacia verticillata – Taxon details on World Wide Wattle.
USDA, ARS, Germplasm Resources Information Network. Acacia verticillata in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. Accessed: 09-Oct-10.

Vernacular names
English: Prickly Moses, Prickly-leaved Wattle, Star-Leaved Acacia, Whorl-Leaved Acacia

Acacia verticillata (prickly Moses; prickly-leaved wattle; star-leaved acacia; prickly mimosa; whorl-leaved acacia) is a perennial shrub to small tree native to south eastern Australia.


The shrub or tree can grow to a maximum height of around 10 m (33 ft) and has a spreading habit. The branchlets have bristly prickling stipules with a length of 0.5 to 2 mm (0.020 to 0.079 in) in length. Like most species of Acacia it has phyllodes rather than true leaves. The evergreen phyllodes grow in bundles that are all crowded together and are whorled that have a linear or lanceolate shape with a length of 5 to 25 mm (0.20 to 0.98 in) and a width of 1 to 7 mm (0.039 to 0.276 in). The phyllodes are glabrous, pungent and rigid with one main visible vein.[2] It blooms between July and December producing simple inflorescences on glabrous stalks with a length of 2 to 5 mm (0.079 to 0.197 in). The ovoid the spherical flower-spikes have a length of up to 4.5 cm (1.8 in) with densely pack light yellow coloured flowers. The compressed an linear seed pods that form after flowering are barely constricted between each of the seeds. The pods are 2 to 8 cm (0.79 to 3.15 in) in length and have a width of 3 to 5 mm (0.12 to 0.20 in) and have quite thin valves. The elliptic shaped seeds are around 3 to 4 mm (0.12 to 0.16 in) in length and have a filamentous funicle that folds and thickens into a turbinate aril.[2]

The species was first described by Charles Louis L'Héritier de Brutelle in 1806 as part of Carl Ludwig Willdenows work Species Plantarum. It was reclassified as Racosperma verticillatum by Leslie Pedley in 2003 then transferred back to genus Acacia in 2006.[3]

Four subspecies are known:

Acacia verticillata subsp. verticillata
Acacia verticillata subsp. ruscifolia
Acacia verticillata subsp. cephalantha
Acacia verticillata subsp. ovoidea[2]


A. verticillata is endemic to New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.[1] The species is a common understorey shrub in both wet and dry sclerophyll forests as well as scrub and heath. In coastal environments it will often have much wider leaves as opposed to the regular needle-like nature of inland specimens. The range of the plant extends from the Gulf St Vincent in South Australia throughout the south-eastern parts and into southern and south eastern Victoria and far south-eastern New South Wales and Tasmania including the islands in Bass Strait where it is situated in saline, riparian and submontane areas.[2]

Prickly Moses is sold commercially for cultivation and can grow in full sun or part shade in a variety of locations including plains, hills and footslopes as a second line from the coast. It will grow in clay or loam soils that are alkaline, neutral or acidic and will tolerate drought, water logging and a moderate frost. It is regarded as an excellent habitat for birds but is highly flammable and not recommended for near houses in bushfire prone areas.[4] Indigenous Australians used the fibre from the plant to make fishing lines.[5]
In popular culture

On 1 September 2016, the Reserve Bank of Australia released a replacement of the polymer five dollar note which includes a depiction of Acacia verticillata (subspecies ovoidea).[6]
See also

List of Acacia species

seed pods

A. verticillatahabit

foliage and inflorescences

Drawing in The Botanical Cabinet by William Miller


ILDIS LegumeWeb
"Acacia verticillata". WorldWideWattle. Western Australian Herbarium. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
"Acacia verticillata (L'Hér.) Willd". Atlas of Living Australia. Global Biodiversity Information Facility. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
"Acacia verticillata Prickly Moses". Plant Selector. Botanic Gardens of South Australia. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
"Acacia verticillata ssp. verticillata". Yarra Ranges Shire Council. 2009. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
"RBA Banknotes: $5 Banknote". Retrieved 3 September 2016.

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