This is a spreading shrub that reaches a height of about 3 m, and has a spread of about 4 m. It is very quick-growing, but fairly short-lived.
The flowers are rod-like and bright yellow, 3 – 6 cm long. They usually appear between May and July.
The seed-pods are 3 – 5 cm long, twisted, curled and sticky, and masses of these pods will remain on the plant even after the seed has fallen. Children in the Mount Isa, Qld area refer to the pods as ‘soap’ (hence the common name), as, when the pods are at the sticky stage, rubbing them between the hands helps to remove dirt. The name ‘candelabra wattle’ is used around Alice Springs. Perhaps this is because of the appearance of the tree when in full flower, with all the inflorescences standing upright like candles.
In some areas this was a very important plant to the Aboriginal peoples. A concoction of leaves and pods was put into the water to kill small fish. The seeds are very nutritious, and can be roasted, boiled like lentils, or steamed with vegetables. The roasted seeds have a nutty flavour popular with children who have little access to sweets. The species has been introduced into parts of Africa by Australian aid agencies as a food-producing plant – the protein content is 17–25%. It is hoped to use the plant extensively there in re-vegetation schemes.
This is a food tree for the larvae of Jalmenus eichhorni, the Northern Imperial Blue butterfly.
Aspect: Full Sun
Soil/Conditions: Adaptable / Well-Drained
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