B.R.Maslin, Two new species of Acacia (Fabaceae) from Banded Iron Formation ranges
The journal of the Western Australian Herbarium
Published online 3 July 2014
© Department of Parks and Wildlife 2014
ISSN 0085-4417 (Print)
Two new species of Acacia (Fabaceae: Mimosoideae) with conservation
significance from Banded Iron Formation ranges in the vicinity of
Koolyanobbing, Western Australia
Bruce R. Maslin
Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Parks and Wildlife,
Locked Bag 104, Bentley Delivery Centre, Western Australia 6983
Maslin, B.R. Two new species of Acacia (Fabaceae: Mimosoideae) with conservation significance
from Banded Iron Formation ranges in the vicinity of Koolyanobbing, Western Australia. Nuytsia 24:
131–138 (2014). Two geographically restricted species of Acacia Mill., A. haematites Maslin and
arid zone of Western Australia are described. Acacia haematites occurs on the Koolyanobbing Range
(close to the township of Koolyanobbing) while A. shapelleae occurs on the Helena and Aurora Range
which is located about 40 km to the north of Koolyanobbing. Both these geographically restricted
species occur in areas of mining interests and are therefore classified as Priority One under Department
of Parks and Wildlife Conservation Codes for Western Australian Flora. The two new species belong
to Acacia sect. Acacia and are allopatric with respect to their closest relatives (A. acuaria W.Fitzg.
and A. glutinosissima Maiden & Blakely respectively) which are reasonably widespread in the central
and northern wheatbelt region of the South West Botanical Province.
As discussed by Gibson et al. (2007, 2012) considerable botanical survey and research has been
conducted in recent years on the Banded Iron Formation (BIF) ranges of the Yilgarn Craton in southern
Western Australia. These botanically rich ranges appear to represent both refugial habitats of great
antiquity and areas of recent speciation, and most are subject to current mining exploration or mining
activity (Gibson et al., loc. cit.). Recent analyses by Gibson and colleagues (Gibson et al. 2010, 2012)
have identified two significant hotspots for plant diversity involving these BIF ranges, the eastern
hotspot is centred on the Helena and Aurora Range north of Koolyanobbing and the western hotspot
in the general vicinity of Morawa, centred on Koolanooka Hills and Blue Hills. These hotspots occur
close to the boundary between the arid zone (Eremaean Botanical Province) and the species-rich
South-West Botanical Province. The two new species described in the present paper are associated
with the eastern hotspot.
Gibson et al. (2010) enumerated 22 plant taxa that are either restricted to, or which have distributions
centered on, four BIF ranges within the eastern hotspot referred to above. Among these is Acacia sp.
Bungalbin Hill (J.J. Alford 1119) that is described below as A. shapelleae Maslin and which occurs
on the Helena and Aurora Range. The second new species described here, A. haematites Maslin, was
unknown to Gibson et al. (2010); it occurs on the Koolyanobbing Range which is located about 40 km
south of the Helena and Aurora Range. Both these geographically restricted new species grow in areas
that are subject to mining interests and as such are classified as Priority One taxa under Department
of Parks and Wildlife Conservation Codes for Western Australian Flora. Their closest relatives are
located several hundred kilometers to the west, in the northern and/or central wheatbelt region of the
South-West Botanical Province.
Both new species described here belong to Acacia Mill. sect. Acacia (formerly Acacia sect. Phyllodineae
DC.) and are included in the online identification key to Australian acacias (Maslin 2014).
16 September 2009, G. Cockerton, S. Regan, J. Warden & J. O’Brien LCH 28974 (holo: PERTH
08520453; iso: MEL, PERTH 08520542).
Diffuse, much-branched shrub to c. 1 m tall, the upper branches dividing into ±numerous, short,
straight, rigid, spinose or sub-spinose branchlets, the oldest of which are devoid of phyllodes. Bark
grey. Branchlets terete, finely ribbed at extremities, the ribs yellow, not or only slightly raised and
glabrous or more commonly hirtellous with very short, straight, patent, tubercle-based hairs. Stipules
early caducous, mostly present only on new shoots, linear to narrowly oblong or narrowly triangular,
1–2 mm long, yellow to light brown, sparsely hairy with hairs often confined to margins, not fused.
Phyllodes narrowly oblong to narrowly lanceolate, narrowed towards apices, sometimes slightly angled
at the gland, 6–12 mm long (including cusp), 1–2 mm wide, straight, patent, rigid, flat, green, glabrous
or hirtellous as on branchlets but hairs slightly shorter; midrib ±prominent and central; lateral nerves
not visible; upper margin 2-nerved below the gland and 1-nerved above the gland; apices narrowed
to a straight, rigid, slender, subulate, dark brown, pungent cusp 1–1.5 mm long; base sessile, the
pulvinus absent or represented by a vestigial rim of yellow or light brown tissue. Gland situated on
upper margin of phyllode (1–)2–5 mm above the base, not prominent, circular, 0.2–0.3 mm diam.,
not raised, light brown. Inflorescences simple, single within axil of phyllodes; heads globular, loosely
5–9-flowered, sessile or sub-sessile; peduncles to 1(–1.5) mm long, glabrous, subtended at base by
a pair of early caducous, basally fused brown bracts c. 1 mm long. Bracteoles widely spathulate,
sessile or sub-sessile, 1–1.5 mm long, c. 1 mm wide, scarious, concave, light or dark brown, obtuse,
fimbriolate otherwise glabrous, nerveless or faintly striate. Flowers 5-merous; calyx widely turbinate,
than 1/4 its length) into rounded, slightly inflexed, non-thickened, ±sparsely fimbriolate lobes, calyx
tube glabrous or sub-glabrous and smooth or faintly striate; petals 2 mm long, glabrous, nerveless or
1-nerved. Pods ±linear to sub-moniliform, to c. 35 mm long (expanded length), 2.5–3 mm wide, thinly
coriaceous, irregularly strongly curved to openly coiled or twisted, undulate, prominently rounded
over seeds with umbo extending to margin of valves, shallowly to strongly constricted between the
seeds, glabrous, dark brown to black, glabrous, very obscurely reticulately nerved, marginal nerve
thin and not or scarcely thickened. Seeds (few seen) longitudinal in pods, obloid-ellipsoid but truncate
along edge adjacent to aril, 2.5–3 mm long, 1.5–2 mm wide, turgid (1.2–1.7 mm thick), dark brown,
often with remnants of internal pod tissue persistent on surface, slightly shiny; aril clavate, straight,
extending c. 1/2-way down one side of the seed. (Figure 1)
Characteristic features. Diffuse shrub to c. 1 m tall, with ±numerous, short, straight, rigid, spinose or
sub-spinose branchlets. Stipules early caducous, not fused. Phyllodes narrowly oblong to narrowly
lanceolate, narrowed towards apices, 6–12 mm long (including cusp), 1–2 mm wide, flat, straight,
patent, rigid, 1-nerved, pungent by slender cusp 1–1.5 mm long, sessile (pulvinus ±absent). Heads
±sessile, 5–9-flowered. Bracteoles widely spathulate, ±sessile, 1–1.5 × c. 1 mm, concave, brown,
obtuse. Flowers 5-merous; calyx gamosepalous. Pods 2.5–3 mm wide, irregularly strongly curved to
openly coiled or twisted, undulate, prominently rounded over seeds, dark brown to black.
Other specimens examined. WESTERN AUSTRALIA: [localities withheld for conservation reasons]
31 Aug. 2013, D. Coultas & S. Coultas 145-Opp 01 (PERTH); 12 Aug. 1971, B.R. Maslin 1958 A
Distribution. This poorly collected species is known from only a single BIF range near Koolyanobbing
(about 50 km north-east of Southern Cross), namely, the Koolyanobbing Range. This area is located
in the south-west extremity of the Eremaean Botanical Province, near the border of the South-West
Botanical Province. In recent years there has been extensive survey of BIF ranges in this area (e.g.
Helena and Aurora Range, Mount Jackson Range, Johnson Range, Windarling Peak, Die Hardy Range
and Mount Elvire) and the new species has not been located on any of these. It appears, therefore,
that A. haematites is geographically restricted and, as noted below, is habitat specific. The known
populations occur within areas covered by existing mining tenements and two other Priority taxa
occur in association with it, namely, Hibbertia lepidocalyx subsp. tuberculata (P3) and Styphelia sp.
Bullfinch (M. Hislop 3574) (P3).
Figure 1. Acacia haematites. A – habit and habitat; B – habit showing spreading branches; C – spinescent branchlets with patent,
rigid, pungent phyllodes and new shoots; D – immature pods. Photographs by David Coultas (A, B, D) and Geoff Cockerton (C).
coloured sandy clay on the eroded slopes below massive ironstone or lateritized duricrust outcrops. It
occurs in open shrubland of Hibbertia lepidocalyx subsp. tuberculata, Melaleuca hamata, M. leiocarpa
and Styphelia sp. Bullfinch (M. Hislop 3574), with scattered emergent Callitris columellaris and
this species. Plants at peak anthesis have been collected in August, but some flowers persist to mid-
September. Pods are initiated on some plants at the end of August. The few mature seeds that have
been seen were collected in mid-September, but these are most probably ones that persisted on the
plants from the previous year’s fruiting event.
Conservation status. Acacia haematites is to be listed as Priority One under Department of Parks and
Wildlife Conservation Codes for Western Australian Flora (A. Jones pers. comm.).
epithet is applied here as a noun in apposition.
from Bullfinch (B.R. Maslin 1958 A) that was noted by Maslin (2001: 473) under A. acuaria is
9098) is now known to be the long phyllode variant of A. intricata S.Moore that is discussed by Maslin
(op. cit. 532) (see below).
Acacia haematites and A. acuaria are both low, spreading shrubs with spinose branchlets, relatively
short, often patent, 1-nerved phyllodes with distinctively pungent tips, globular heads of 5-merous
flowers with gamosepalous calyces and short but broad, concave, ±sessile bracteoles, and strongly
curved to openly coiled or twisted, narrow pods that are clearly rounded over the longitudinal seeds.
numerously flowered heads and its stipule morphology, but there are also differences in the phyllodes
and pods; the two species are allopatric. The stipules of both species are early caducous (normally
present only on the new shoots) but in A. acuaria they are fused, subtend the bases of the developing
phyllodes and fall away as a single unit (by contrast the stipules of A. haematites are completely free
and flank either side of the developing phyllodes). The peduncles of A. acuaria are 4–12 mm long and
the heads are 14–23-flowered. Other characters that help distinguish A. acuaria from A. haematites
are its phyllodes that are terete to sub-terete (but flat when dry), more slender (normally not exceeding
pods that are slightly broader (3.5–5 mm wide). Acacia acuaria is widespread and relatively common
in the northern and central wheatbelt region of the South-West Botanical Province, extending from the
Murchison River south-east to near Merredin; it extends slightly into the adjacent Eremaean Botanical
Province in the area to the east of Morawa and Wubin. Acacia haematites occurs about 300 km to the
south-east of the closest occurrence of A. acuaria.
Koolyanobbing and elsewhere (fide Maslin 2001: 532 and 2014), especially because both taxa have
spinescent branchlets, short, rigid, patent, pungent, sessile phyllodes and globular heads. Around
Koolyanobbing, however, A. intricata grows on red earth flats, not BIF ranges, and morphologically
it is most readily distinguished from the new species by its bracteoles and calyces that are either
absent or highly reduced and by its phyllodes that are thicker and which are strongly 2-nerved along
their upper margin (the nerves extending from base to apex, not coalescing at the gland as occurs in
A. haematites). Better fruiting material from Koolyanobbing plants of both these taxa is needed to
better assess the differences between them.
16 August 2011, J. Jackson & V. Jackson 230 (holo: PERTH 08365822; iso: CANB, K, MEL, NSW).
florabase.dpaw.wa.gov.au [accessed June 2014].
Erect, multi-stemmed, rounded or obconic, glabrous shrub to 3 m tall and 4 m across, resinous and
viscid (but the resin not sticky when dry) with a strong camphor-like odour when fresh. Bark light
grey, finely roughened. Branchlets terete, ribs not visible, the upper branchlets brown but partially or
wholly covered by a dark brown to black soot-like substance, older branchlets light grey and marked
or roughened by slightly raised scars where phyllodes have fallen. Stipules persistent only at base
of young phyllodes, linear to linear-triangular, 1–2(–3) mm long, slightly thickened, light brown to
red-brown. Phyllodes mostly terete to sub-terete, a few compressed, 30–50(–60) mm long, 0.5–1 mm
diam., mostly shallowly incurved, a few moderately incurved, straight or shallowly sigmoid, sub-patent
to ascending but erect on new shoots, green; longitudinal nerves four, brown, not raised (plane or
slightly impressed when dry), the surface often shiny resinous; apices innocuous, occasionally sub-
uncinate, normally terminated by a sub-centric or excentric blunt point. Gland situated on upper edge
of phyllode 1–1.5 mm above the pulvinus, circular, microscopic, c. 0.1 mm diam., easily overlooked
(even at magnification), flat, a similar gland near apex of phyllode. Inflorescences simple, single
within axil of upper phyllodes; peduncles 20–40 mm long, base ebracteate; heads globular, mostly
35–45-flowered, a few c. 20-flowered, 9–12 mm diam. when dry, canary yellow. Bracteoles 1.5 mm
long; claws narrowly oblong, ±expanded into distinct laminae which are rounded abaxially, concave
adaxially, c. 0.5 mm wide and thickened. Flowers 5-merous; sepals free or shortly united at their base,
1/2 the length of petals, narrowly oblong, neither expanded nor thickened at their apices; petals 3 mm
long, nerveless. Pods linear, (30–)45–60 mm long, (3–)4–5 mm wide, thinly crustaceous, straight or
very shallowly curved, slightly undulate, flat but low-domed over the seeds with umbo extending to
margin of valves, ±straight-edged, dark brown, openly reticulate with nerves slightly raised, marginal
nerve light brown and not thickened. Seeds longitudinal and seated in distinct depressions within
the pods, obloid, 3.5 mm long, 2.2 mm wide, black, ±shiny at centre otherwise with a satin lustre;
pleurogram continuous, very obscure; areole oblong, 2 mm long, 1 mm wide; funicle expanded into
a white aril that partially extends along one or both sides of the seed. (Figure 2)
a strong camphor-like odour when fresh. Oldest branchlets marked by slightly raised scars where
phyllodes have fallen. Phyllodes mostly terete to sub-terete, 30–50(–60) mm long, 0.5–1 mm diam.,
mostly shallowly incurved; longitudinal nerves four, brown, not raised. Inflorescences simple; peduncles
20–40 mm long, base ebracteate; heads large (9–12 mm diam. when dry). Flowers 5-merous; sepals
±free, 1/2 length of petals. Pods to 60 mm long, (3–)4–5 mm wide, linear, thinly crustaceous, dark
brown, openly reticulate with nerves slightly raised. Seeds longitudinal, obloid, 3.5 × 2.2 mm, black,
±shiny at centre otherwise with a satin lustre; aril partially extending along one or both sides of the seed.
8 Sep. 1988, J.J. Alford 1119 (CANB, NSW, PERTH); 8 Sep. 2010, D. Angus 05 (PERTH); 30 Oct.
2013, A.I. Craigie 1556.001 (PERTH); 3 Nov. 2000, E. Mattiske 172–162 (PERTH); 22 Nov. 2011,
S. McNee LCH 34652 (MEL, PERTH); 8 Apr. 2012, S. McNee LCH 34653 (PERTH); 21 Nov. 2006,
S. McNee & G. Cockerton LCS 12862 (AD, PERTH).
Distribution. Occurs in the Eremaean Botanical Province in the south-west extremity of the arid zone
(just north of the border of the South-West Botanical Province) in Western Australia where it is known
from only the Helena and Aurora Range, about 50 km north of Koolyanobbing. Current knowledge
shows A. shapelleae as occurring in a few populations over a distance of about seven kilometres.
The largest of these populations contains approximately 1,000 plants regenerating post-fire and the
smallest about ten mature plants. These populations are close to areas that are likely to be proposed
for mining; all occur within existing mining tenements.
The Helena and Aurora Range is contained within the Mount Manning – Helena and Aurora Ranges
Conservation Park. The range was first visited by Europeans in 1861 (Gibson & Butcher 2013) and
until recently remained relatively inaccessible; however, today access has been improved on account
of mining exploration activity and pastoralism in the general area. The species was discovered in 1988
in connection with a biological survey of this botanically rich region.
Figure 2. Acacia shapelleae. A – habitat (Helena and Aurora Range); B – multi-stemmed habit, with Shapelle McNee; C –
habit; D – flowering branches showing narrow, spreading phyllodes and canary yellow heads on long peduncles. Photographs
by Shapelle McNee (A), Geoff Cockerton (B) and Jennifer Jackson (C, D).
comprising outcropping BIF. It occurs in tree mallee (Eucalyptus ebbanoensis) over dense scrub
containing a range of species; in the largest population the most common associates are Banksia arborea,
Calycopeplus paucifolius, Grevillea zygoloba, Lepidosperma bungalbin, Melaleuca nematophylla,
Mirbelia ferricola, Neurachne annularis and Stenanthemum newbeyi (S. McNee pers. comm.).
Phenology. Flowers in August and September; pods with mature seed have been collected in mid-
Wildlife Conservation Codes for Western Australian Flora, as Acacia sp. Bungalbin Hill (J.J. Alford
1119) (Smith 2013). This species is habitat-specific with a very restricted geographic range and occurs
in an area of active mineral exploration.
past 18 years she has conducted extensive surveys for environmental impact assessment on behalf of
Western Botanical, and has been instrumental in recognition of numerous new plant species and the
discovery and monitoring of populations of rare flora, particularly on the Swan Coastal Plain and the
BIF ranges of the Yilgarn region. In spring 1983 Shapelle, together with colleague Mark Burgman,
conducted extensive botanical surveys of poorly surveyed areas to the north of Esperance, collecting
almost 1,000 specimens that are now deposited in the Western Australian Herbarium.
Common name. Shapelle’s Wattle.
Affinities. Acacia shapelleae is most closely related to A. glutinosissima Maiden & Blakely. Both
species are glabrous, resinous, viscid shrubs with similar stipules, inflorescences and carpological
features; their phyllodes are also similar in having a total of four longitudinal nerves and a gland near
both the pulvinus and the apex. The two species, however, can be distinguished by their distribution,
habitat, habit and by details of their phyllodes and pods. Morphologically A. glutinosissima differs
most obviously from A. shapelleae in having longer phyllodes (mostly 9–17 cm) that are sparingly
tuberculate (tubercles absent in A. shapelleae) and flat. In A. glutinosissima the phyllodes are normally
2–3.5 mm wide, however, in one population from near Burracoppin they are just 1 mm wide which
is within the range of the new species. Some of the youngest phyllodes on the Burracoppin plants
of A. glutinosissima are compressed (i.e. flattened but thickened) and while these approach those of
distinguished from A. shapelleae in having a larger gland at the base of the phyllodes (0.5–1 mm long)
and longer pods (to 10 cm) that are slightly but obviously constricted between the seeds and possess
nerves of the reticulum that are more prominently raised. Acacia glutinosissima is a rather open,
spindly shrub which is either single-stemmed or sparingly divided at the base, whereas A. shapelleae
is clearly multi-stemmed. Acacia glutinosissima has a scattered, discontinuous distribution in the
central wheatbelt region to the west and south-west of where A. shapelleae occurs. It grows in the
Latham–Wubin area and also from Kununoppin east to Westonia and south to Bruce Rock, where it is
found on laterite or gravelly sand or loam (Maslin 2001: 461), not BIF as does the new species. The
closest known population of A. glutinosissima to that of A. shapelleae is from Westonia, at 150 km
south-west of the Helena and Aurora Range.
Acacia shapelleae also has affinities with A. rossei F.Muell., but the relationship is not as close as
with A. glutinosissima. Acacia rossei is a spindly, erect, somewhat viscid shrub 1–3(–5) m high and
like A. shapelleae has conspicuous, pedunculate heads that are aggregated at the ends of the branches.
that are normally flat, longer stipules (2.5–4.5 mm), 65–75-flowered heads, transverse to oblique,
larger seeds (4–5 mm long) and especially by its pods that are narrowly oblong, 7–11 mm wide, thick-
textured (crustaceous) and roughened by prominent brown excrescences. Acacia rossei occurs in the
wheatbelt region where it extends from Kellerberrin east to Yellowdine and south to near Hyden; it
normally grows in yellow sand on plains in tall shrubland.
I am indebted to Shapelle McNee and Geoff Cockerton (Western Botanical), Cameron Blackburn
(Mattiske Consulting Pty Ltd) and Jennifer Jackson (Department of Parks and Wildlife) for providing
habit, habitat, distributional details and photographs of A. shapelleae. Geoff Cockerton and David
Coultas (Woodman Environmental Consulting Pty Ltd) are thanked for supplying specimens, habitat
information and photographs of A. haematites. Neil Gibson (Department of Parks and Wildlife) is
thanked for advice concerning the phytogeography and occurrence of taxa found on Yilgarn BIF ranges
in southern Western Australia. Sandra Thomas (Department of Parks and Wildlife) is thanked for
providing information on mining interests in the areas where the two new species grow. Alex George
(Perth) is gratefully acknowledged for assistance in formulating the name A. haematites.
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Drummond and the exploration of the Helena and Aurora Range. Nuytsia 23: 95–99.
Gibson, N., Coates, D.J. & Thiele, K.R. (2007). Taxonomic research and the conservation status of flora in the Yilgarn Banded
Iron Formation ranges. Nuytsia 17: 1–12.
Gibson, N., Meissner, R., Markey, A.S. & Thompson, W.A. (2012). Patterns of plant diversity in ironstone ranges in arid south
western Australia. Journal of Arid Environments 77: 25–31.
Gibson, N., Yates, C.J. & Dillon, R. (2010). Plant communities of the ironstone ranges of South Western Australia: hotspots
for plant diversity and mineral deposits. Biodiversity Conservation 19: 3951–3962.
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