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Acacia holosericea - Maslin & M.A.J. Thomson

Common Name Cole's wattle, Candelabra Wattle, Soap wattle,
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards The seed of many Acacia species, including this one, is edible and highly nutritious, and can be eaten safely as a fairly major part of the diet. Not all species are edible, however, and some can contain moderate levels of toxins[1295]. Especially when harvesting from the wild, especial care should be taken to ensure correct identification of any plants harvested for food[K]. Especially in times of drought, many Acacia species can concentrate high levels of the toxin Hydrogen cyanide in their foliage, making them dangerous for herbivores to eat.
Habitats Acacia-dominated scrubs and tall open shrubland, often developing dense, nearly monotypic populations along dry, stony or sandy drainage lines in disturbed sites such as road verges, gravel pits and burnt areas, growing in a variety of soil types[286]. It occurs in Australia in red sands. It is a tropical plant.
Range Australia - Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Acacia holosericea Cole

Mark Marathon wikimedia.org
Acacia holosericea Cole
Mark Marathon wikimedia.org


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Acacia holosericea is a SHRUB growing to 4 m (13ft) by 3 m (9ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Insects.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and very alkaline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Acacia holosericea auct. non G.Don: Misapplied

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Seed  Seedpod
Edible Uses:

Edible Portion: Seeds. Seed - cooked[1294 ]. It can be eaten in the same ways as other small legume seeds and is also ground into a powder then used as a flavouring in desserts or as a nutritious supplement to pastries and breads[1295 ]. Traditionally, the dry seed was ground to a coarse flour, mixed with water and either eaten as a paste or baked to form a 'cake'[1300 ]. The seedpods are openly and strongly curved, 50 - 100mm long and 3.5 - 4mm wide, with very dark, brown to black, oblong seeds 4 - 4.5mm long[286 ]. Acacia seeds are highly nutritious and contain around 26% protein, 26% available carbohydrate, 32% fibre and 9% fat. The fat content is higher than most legumes with the aril providing the bulk of fatty acids present. These fatty acids are largely unsaturated. The energy content is high in all species tested, 1480 ±270 kJ per 100g. The seeds are low glycaemic index foods - the starch is digested and absorbed very slowly, producing a small, but sustained rise in blood glucose and so delaying the onset of exhaustion in prolonged exercise[1295 ]. Carbon Farming - Staple Crop: protein.

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

The bark of all Acacia species contains greater or lesser quantities of tannins and are astringent. Astringents are often used medicinally - taken internally, for example. they are used in the treatment of diarrhoea and dysentery, and can also be helpful in cases of internal bleeding. Applied externally, often as a wash, they are used to treat wounds and other skin problems, haemorrhoids, perspiring feet, some eye problems, as a mouth wash etc[601, K]. Many Acacia trees also yield greater or lesser quantities of a gum from the trunk and stems. This is sometimes taken internally in the treatment of diarrhoea and haemorrhoids[601].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Agroforestry Uses: Acacia colei is a colonising species, forming dense regrowth populations in disturbed sites, including roadsides and burnt-over areas[286 ]. The plant can be used as a pioneer for restoring native woodland or establishing woodland gardens[K ]. It has been planted as a windbreak around fields and along roadsides. Its bushy habit to ground level and heavy fall of large slowly decomposing phyllodes enhance its value for sand stabilisation[1300 ]. It has given very satisfactory results when planted as the lower part of windbreaks with Eucalyptus camaldulensis[1300 ]. The plant has a shallow, wide-spreading root system that competes heavily with nearby crops and can reduce their yields[1294 ]. On sandy soils in semi-arid zones, the plant may be used in a wide alley cropping system (about 20 metres between rows) where its benefits as a low windbreak may outweigh its depletion of soil moisture in the crop root zone[1300 ]. Other Uses: A red dye can be obtained from the lipid-rich arils by soaking them in water[1300 ]. The heartwood is dark brown; it is clearly demarcated from the pale sapwood. The wood is hard, dense. It is suitable for the manufacture of small decorative articles, and can be used for light construction[1294 , 1300 ]. The wood is an excellent source of firewood and charcoal. The calorific value of the wood is 4670 kcal/kg and that of the charcoal 7535 kcal/k[1300 ]. Carbon Farming - Agroforestry Services: nitrogen, windbreak. Other Systems: FMAFS.

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Agroforestry Services: Windbreak  Historic Wild Staple  Management: Coppice  Management: Standard  New Crop  Other Systems: FMAFS  Staple Crop: Protein

A shrub or small tree. Climate: Tropical. Humidity: semi-arid. Seeds can be stored. The seed are highly nutritious having 21% protein, 10% fat and 57% carbohydrate. Plants flower April to July in the southern hemisphere and fruit September to October. Acacia colei is a component of many semi-arid, subtropical to tropical plant communities in northern Australia, where it is found at elevations up to 450 metres[286 , 1300 ]. The mean annual temperature is around 25 - 27°c, rising to around 34 - 40°c in the hot season and falling to 8 - 16°c in the cool season. Light frosts happen occasionally in the most elevated locations. Rainfall is highly erratic, usually ranging from 230 - 725mm[1300 ]. Requires a sunny position. The plant is well-adapted to grow on infertile sandy soils that are not adapted to conventional food crops, and can also grow in claypans[1294 ]. Prefers a circumneutral soil, but can tolerate a pH ranging from 5.5 - 8.5[1300 ]. Established plants are drought tolerant. Acacia colei is a fast-growing but short-lived species, with a life-span of only 3 - 10 years[1294 ]. The plant can produce very heavy seed crops less than two years after planting and might have potential as a new human food in West Africa[1294 ]. They have been tested for toxicity and human trials have indicated that, at levels up to 25% of the diet, no anti-nutritional factors have been observed[1294 ]. Acacia colei has been used as an ornamental in west Africa, Thailand and northern Australia where its silvery foliage, mass flowering and wide adaptability to different soil types are highly valued[1300 ]. The seeds of most acacia species can be quickly and efficiently harvested at full maturity without the need for any specialised equipment, e.g. when a crop is heavy one person can harvest 3-5 kilos of clean seed of Acacia colei or Acacia tumida per hour. Small seed-bearing branches can be cut and beaten on sheets, or bushes can be beaten or shaken directly onto large sheets[1294 ]. In Niger, farmers prefer the curly-podded form (var. ileocarpa) because less seed is lost through shattering prior to harvest. In Australia the curved-podded form is preferred by seed collectors because the seed is more easily and completely dislodged from the pod during beating[1294 ]. Yields of 4 - 6 kilos of seed have been obtained from the plant[1294 ]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria; these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[1300 ]. Carbon Farming - Cultivation: historic wild staple, new crop. Management: standard, coppice.

Carbon Farming

  • Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Plants that contribute to nitrogen fixation include the legume family – Fabaceae.
  • Agroforestry Services: Windbreak  Linear plantings of trees and shrubs designed to enhance crop production, protect people and livestock and benefit soil and water conservation.
  • Historic Wild Staple  These crops were once cultivated but have been abandoned. The reasons for abandonment may include colonization, genocide, market pressures, the arrival of superior crops from elsewhere, and so forth.
  • Management: Coppice  Cut to the ground repeatedly - resprouting vigorously. Non-destructive management systems maintaining the soil organic carbon.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • New Crop  Most new crops were important wild plants until recently, although some are the result of hybridization. They have been developed in the last few, decades. What they have in common is that they are currently cultivated by farmers. Examples include baobab, argan, and buffalo gourd.
  • Other Systems: FMAFS  Farmer-Managed Agroforestry Farming Systems.
  • Staple Crop: Protein  (16+ percent protein, 0-15 percent oil). Annuals include beans, chickpeas, lentils, cowpeas, and pigeon peas. Perennials include perennial beans, nuts, leaf protein concentrates, and edible milks.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation


Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Cole’s wattle, Gurganyan and Gargardu (Yindjibarndi), Gurlganyan (Ngarluma) and Karranyongu (Kurrama)

AUSTRALASIA: Australia, Queensland (west), Western Australia, Northern Territory,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

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Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Maslin & M.A.J. Thomson

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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