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Flora of Australia Online

Acacia pulchella R.Br., in W.T.Aiton, Hortus Kew. 2nd edn, 5: 464 (1813).)
Prickly Moses.

Mimosa pulchella (R.Br.) Poir., Encycl. Meth. (Bot.) Suppl. 5: 530 (1817), nom. inval. (combination not actually made); Racosperma pulchellum (R.Br.) Pedley, Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 92: 240 (1986). T: Mimosa armata , King George III Sound [Albany, W.A.], R. Brown ; lecto: BM, lower right hand flowering specimen on sheet titled ‘Iter Australiense, 1802-5’ and bearing [Britten no.] 4322 , fide B.R.Maslin & R.S.Cowan, Nuytsia 10: 116 (1995); iso: K; paralecto: BM, sterile and fruiting specimens mounted on lectotype sheet.

Acacia pulchella f. aculeata Hort. ex Siebert & Voss, Vilm. Blumengartn. 3rd edn, 1: 228 (1896), nom. inval. (description not diagnostic). This name presumably refers to a variant of A. pulchella

Shrub mostly 0.5–1.5 m high. Branchlets hairy or glabrous. Axillary spines 1 or 2 per node, sometimes few or absent, mostly 2–20 mm long. Stipules scarious. Leaves bipinnate; pinnae 1 pair, 1–15 mm long; petiole > 0.5–6 mm long; pinnules 2–11 pairs, oblong to obovate or oblanceolate, 1–6 mm long, 0.5–2 mm wide, flat, green to glaucous, glabrous to puberulous; gland within axil of pinnae, stipitate, to 3 mm long. Inflorescences rudimentary 1–3-headed racemes with axes to c. 3 mm long; peduncles 1–15 (–20) mm long, glabrous or hairy; heads globular, 10–40-flowered, infrequently to 60-flowered, golden; bracteoles apiculate to long-acuminate. Flowers 5-merous; sepals 1/2–2/3-united. Pods narrowly oblong, flat or slightly undulate, 1.5–5 cm long, mostly 3–5 mm wide, crustaceous, glabrous or pubescent; margins thick. Seeds longitudinal, mostly oblong, 2.5–4.5 mm long, brown, arillate. 

Widespread in south-western W.A. from Port Gregory to Cape Arid. 

Acacia fagonioides and A. amputata have been excluded from the circumscription of A. pulchella given in B.R.Maslin, Nuytsia 1: 397–407 (1975). Even so it is a very polymorphic species and detailed studies are required to elucidate the perplexing range of variation and to reassess the status of the varieties and informal variants which are recognised here. Putative hybrids occur between some of the varieties.

This species, together with A. amputata , A. epacantha , A. fagonioides , A. guinetii , A. lasiocarpa and A. megacephala constitute the ‘A. pulchella group’, fide P.Guinet et al. , Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 80: 53–68 (1980).

Four varieties are recognised but not every specimen referable to the species is readily accommodated in these.


1 Flowering peduncles hairy (hairs minute, sometimes sparse); branchlets normally hairy


1: Flowering peduncles glabrous; branchlets glabrous or hairy


2 Pinnules glabrous or with a few minute hairs on margins

var. pulchella

2: Pinnules finely and minutely puberulous over entire upper and lower surfaces

var. reflexa

3 Branchlets prominently ribbed and normally dark red; spines normally absent or 1 per node; pinnules narrowly oblong, commonly green

var. goadbyi

3: Branchlet characters not combined as above; spines 1 or 2 per node; pinnules obovate to narrowly oblong, green or glaucous to subglaucous


4 Peduncles 1–4 mm long; bracteoles aristate

var. pulchella

4: Peduncles 7–15 (–20) mm long; bracteoles ovate

var. glaberrima


Data derived from Flora of Australia Volumes 11A (2001), 11B (2001) and 12 (1998), products of ABRS, ©Commonwealth of Australia