Species Profile and Threats Database

For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Vulnerable as Acacia attenuata
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, included on the Commenced List (1/11/2009).
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans National Recovery Plan for Acacia attenuata (Brownlie, H., 2007b) [Recovery Plan] as Acacia attenuata.
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument] as Acacia attenuata.
State Government
    Documents and Websites
QLD:Survey of Threatened Plant Species in South-East Queensland Biographical Region (Halford, D., 1998) [Report].
State Listing Status
QLD: Listed as Vulnerable (Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Queensland): July 2012) as Acacia attenuata
Scientific name Acacia attenuata [10690]
Family Fabaceae:Fabales:Magnoliopsida:Magnoliophyta:Plantae
Species author Maiden & Blakely
Infraspecies author  
Reference Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland 38 (10 Feb. 1927) 117, Pl. XVII, figs 1-7.
Other names Racosperma attenuatum [49989]
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images

Scientific name: Acacia attenuata

Acacia attenuata is a conventionally accepted species and is most closely related to A. rubida (Queensland CRA/RFA Steering Committee 1998).

Acacia attenuata is a slender shrub growing to about 5 m tall. The leaves are hairless and foliage can be distinguished by the presence of both 'juvenile' and 'adult' leaf types when plants are reproductively mature (Maslin 2001a). Branchlets may be red in colour during the juvenile life stage and are generally terete (circular in cross-section) and glabrous (hairless) (Brownlie 2007b). Inflorescences (flower clusters) are cream to pale yellow and consist of 20–35 globular flowers (Brownlie 2007b; Stanley & Ross 1983). Fruit development may commence around June–July and pods reach maturity in Spring (October–November). The glabrous seedpods are slightly flat, narrowed between the seeds, are dark brown and approximately 8–10 cm long and 1.3–1.4 cm wide at maturity (Brownlie 2007b).

The species occurs in high rainfall areas of south-east Queensland and is confined to coastal lowland sand plains (Halford 1998; Stanley & Ross 1983), where it is never more than 40 km from the coast (Orchard & Wilson 2001; Queensland CRA/RFA Steering Committee 1998; QLD DNR 2000). The species has a restricted geographic range of approximately 400 km, from Littabella National Park (NP) north of Bundaberg, south to Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast.

Population clusters

A. attenuata is distributed across eight Local Government Areas and three population clusters, referred to as the southern (Gold Coast to Caboolture Shire), central (Caloundra to Cooloola Shire) and northern (Maryborough to Burnett Shire) regions (Brownlie 2007b).

Based on the range of 400 km (Brownlie 2007b) it is estimated that the species has an extent of occurrence of approximately 400 km².

Fragmented distribution

The area of occupancy is likely to be somewhat less than the extent of occurrence, as the species is confined to fragments across its range. Its area of occupancy is estimated to be less than 100 km² (Brownlie 2007b).

Within the three main areas where A. attenuata occurs it inhabits approximately 26 individual locations (Brownlie 2007b).

A. attenuata's distribution is fragmented due to habitat destruction and clearing, largely associated with urban development pressures (Brownlie 2007b).

Total population extent

The estimated total population figure for A. attenuata is likely to be approximately 1000 to 2500 plants, though these figures are highly speculative. Based on Queensland Herbarium (EPA/QPWS) collection records, 50 collections were made from approximately 30 sites between 1922 and 2003. Field studies conducted in 2005 confirmed that 24 populations remain in the wild and two ex situ populations (revegetation plantings) have been established (Brownlie 2005; 2007b). These populations occur across various land tenures including: EPA/QPWS reserve estates (national parks, conservation parks, forest reserves); council reserves; State land; and freehold land (Brownlie 2007b).

Regional scale

The species is now extremely scarce in the southern region, being known only from a single, small and isolated remnant at Burleigh Knoll Conservation Park (CP) (Brownlie 2005; Pedley 1987). Populations are more frequent (20) in the central region although many are small (less than 100 plants) and are confined to fragments in urban areas. In the northern region, five known populations exist and four of these are secured in national parks and forest reserves (Brownlie 2007b). The largest populations of A. attenuata occur in the northern region (Littabella NP, Moore Park). Larger size may confer greater demographic stability and viability. In addition, the existence of multiple A. attenuata subpopulations at several sites in the northern (Littabella NP, Burrum Coast NP) and central (Moolah NP, Palmview CP) region may enhance gene flow potential, reproductive success and ultimately the long-term viability of these populations (Brownlie 2007b).

Mooloolah catchment

In the Mooloolah catchment, within the central distribution of this species, a group of populations occur within a 5–6 km radius of one another. These populations are likely to represent the remnants of a once continuous expanse of populations that may have inhabited the heathland planes of the area prior to agricultural and urban development (Brownlie 2005). Geographically, Bundilla is central to this cluster of populations, and is the largest population in the central region. This has important genetic implications as small populations are expected to be reliant on continued gene flow from larger populations (Ellstrand & Elam 1993, cited in Brownlie 2007b). Hence, it is likely that Bundilla is an important 'source' of genetic material (pollen and seed) for the small surrounding 'sink' populations (Brownlie 2005). One study found eight populations (with up to 20 plants) along the Caloundra-Mooloolaba Road (SKM 2009 cited in Parsons Brinckerhoff 2010).

Acacia attenuata occurs in the following Queensland Parks and Reserves:

  • Littabella National Park (NP
  • Littabella Forest Reserve (FR)
  • Burrum Coast NP
  • Poona NP
  • Cooloola NP
  • Mooloolah NP
  • Palmview Conservation Park (CP)
  • Tewantin Forest Reserve (2 populations known)
  • Kalana Road Conservation Reserve
  • Burleigh Knoll CP (Brownlie 2007b)
  • Great Sandy NP (QLD DNR 2000).


This species occurs on flat coastal lowland plains, at altitudes of lower than 30 m above sea level (Orchard & Wilson 2001; Qld CRA/RFA Steering Committee 1997). Across this range A. attenuata typically occurs in seasonally waterlogged areas of wet heathland or heathland margins, open forest and woodland communities, and specifically on sandy poorly drained soils or peat swamps which are infertile (Lebler 1981, Specht & Specht 1999). Acacia attenuata has been recorded growing in shrublands with Leptospermum whitei and Baeckea frutescens; in wallum with Banksia aemula and Eucalyptus robusta; in woodlands with Corymbia trachyphloia, E. umbra and Banksia oblongifolia; and in open forests of E. umbra, E. racemosa and Melaleuca quinquenervia (Queensland CRA/RFA Steering Committee 1998).

Acacia attenuata has been found in disturbed environments, such as roadsides subject to vegetation control, indicating the potential for a wide distribution within its range (Maslin 2001).

High-light environments

As a pioneer species and heliotype (adapted to high light environments), abundances are usually greater in areas of high light intensities such as along forest margins and in open heathland plains. Although A. attenuata tolerates shaded sites, it is generally less abundant at these sites.

The species has been observed at disturbed, well-lit sites:

  • recently cleared of native vegetation
  • along power line easements
  • sites disturbed by slashing and road grading
  • as an emergent at newly logged sites
  • on soil stock piles.

Although cleared areas and roadsides are not the preferred habitat, the species' ability to tolerate some level of disturbance has enabled it to persist in these areas (Brownlie 2007b; Queensland CRA/RFA Steering Committee 1998).

Ecotone association

Based on current knowledge of the geographic distribution and area occupied by A. attenuata, the species shows a close association with the ecotone between wet heathland and open eucalypt forest communities. In these low-lying coastal habitats, soils are sandy/peaty and sites are seasonally waterlogged. These conditions and respective communities are considered essential for the survival of this species as they represent potential habitat for population expansion and corridors for pollinator movement (Brownlie 2007b).

Acacia attenuata is a perennial shrub and field observations suggest a life span of between five and ten years. As a fast growing pioneer species, A. attenuata reaches a height of up to 2 m within the first year, has a juvenile period of approximately two years (three years at most) and senescence (process of aging and decline) may commence after five to six years (Brownlie 2005; 2007b).


Acacia attenuata flowers from April to August and inflorescences (flower clusters) consist of both male and bisexual flowers on the same plant (MSC 2001). As with other Acacia species, pollination is suspected to be by non-specific insects, possibly exotic honey bees (Apis mellifera) (New 1984). Seed pod development may commence around July and pods reach maturity in mid-Spring (October–November) to early summer (Deanne pers. comm. 2006, cited in Brownlie 2007b). Primary seed dispersal is suspected to be short distance and affected by gravity or forcible ejection from dehisced pods (open spontaneously when ripe) (Halford 1998) or to be dispersed by insect species such as ants (O'Dowd and Gill 1986, cited in Brownlie et al. 2010). Flood dispersal is also noted as a possible movement of seeds (Brownlie et al. 2010). Reproduction is mostly via sexually produced seed (Queensland CRA/RFA Steering Committee 1998) although vegetative regeneration from damaged stems and surface roots has been observed in response to mechanical disturbance (slashing, road grading and soil cultivation) (Brownlie 2005; 2007b).

Importance of fire

Studies have confirmed that A. attenuata requires fire for seed germination (Queensland CRA/RFA Steering Committee 1997). In areas recently (within 12 months) affected by fire, A. attenuata stands have been dominated by seedlings and juveniles with a low frequency of adults recorded. Prolific seedling establishment at these sites are a feature of disturbance-dependant species which require cues such as fire for mass germination (Keith 2004). Given the dense post-fire stands exhibited by A. attenuata, and the closely related A. latisepala, it is thought that both species accumulate large seed banks which ensure their abundance in the early stages of succession (Clarke & Fulloon 1997). Early reproductive maturation in both species (Clarke & Fulloon 1997) is also consistent with theories that obligate seeders maximise their fitness by investing in early reproduction, to ensure seeds germinate prior to the next fire (Knox & Morrison 2005).

Acacia attenuata is most closely related to and strongly resembles A. rubida in retaining its juvenile leaves for a long period of time. However, A. attenuata differs from A. rubida by having more attenuated phyllodes (flattened leaf stalks), with a relatively smaller, different-shaped and strictly basal gland and a much broader pod. A. rubida is also distinguished by its phyllodes that dry a reddish colour (Queensland CRA/RFA Steering Committee 1998).

A. attenuata may be confused with the more widespread and common A. falcata but can be distinguished by its narrower, straighter phyllodes and broader pods (Queensland CRA/RFA Steering Committee 1998).

Consideration needs to be given to the seed bank, as the species may appear to be absent from a site but is present in the soil seed bank (Onans & Parsons 1980).

Habitat Loss and Fragmentation

The key threats to A. attenuata are considered to be urban and agricultural development, which have destroyed habitat and damaged some remaining stands. Habitat fragmentation largely threatens the southern populations which are small, disjunct and confined mostly to urban landscapes (Brownlie 2005).

Fire regimes

Fire regimes may also be of concern (QLD DNR 2000). Too frequent fires would lead to a gradual decline in the population. Therefore, sufficient time is required between fires to allow seedlings to flower and replenish the soil seedbank. Prolonged fire intervals (10 years) promote high inter-specific competition and greater canopy cover, limiting the species expansion beyond the first 10 m to 20 m of forest margins and reducing plant densities (Brownlie 2005; 2007b). Maintenance of stable populations will require disturbance regimes that account for the species' estimated life span and most importantly, the time taken to reach maturity (two to three years). A fire regime of between six and ten years would be favourable for A. attenuata (Brownlie 2005). For coastal heathland and woodland habitats in south-east Queensland, fire regimes between seven and 20 years, with an emphasis on the eight to 12 year range, have been recommended for optimising biodiversity (Watson 2001, cited in Brownlie 2007b).

Damage, disease and weed invasion

Damage to plants, disease and mortality have been observed at A. attenuata populations along roadsides and power line easements that are subject to road grading and slashing (Brownlie 2007). High frequency road grading (1–6 months) and slashing (1–12 months) regimes at A. attenuata sites may be detrimental to recruitment patterns and too frequent to promote population growth. For example, population decline at Tewantin Forest Reserve between 2003 and 2005 was associated with the frequent loss of A. attenuata plants to slashing along power line easements (Moran pers. comm. 2006, cited in Brownlie 2007b). Weeds tend to be a greater threat to A. attenuata at sites where populations are confined to disturbed forest margins such as urban areas and along power line easements. Weed invasion has been identified as a key threat in the central region, particularly in damp eucalypt forests adjacent to housing developments where dumped garden waste re-sprouts, forms thickets and alters the micro-environments (Low 1997, cited in Brownlie 2007b).

Modified water supply

Modification of water tables and hydrological patterns is also considered a threat, particularly on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts where clearing and drainage of habitat for urban development is continuing (Queensland CRA/RFA Steering Committee 1998; QLD DNR 2000). Drainage operations may adversely affect A. attenuata in several ways, for example, increased drainage dries the soil profiles and redirection of water could lead to prolonged waterlogging. Both outcomes could initiate the displacement of A. attenuata, which requires a stable moisture regime (Hassal 2002, cited in Brownlie 2007b). Furthermore, impediments to natural drainage patterns could adversely affect long distance flood dispersal of seed (Brownlie 2007b).

A national recovery plan has been adopted for Acacia attenuata. The following management actions are based on the known threats, the species biology and ecology and existing conservation measures (Brownlie 2007b):

  • Prevent further loss of coastal lowland vegetation through development activities.
  • Promote management practices that favour the protection of A. attenuata habitat and natural populations.
  • Manage fire regimes (fire intensity, frequency and season) to ensure that recruitment patterns are not adversely affected by disturbance events. This will require the implementation of interim fire regimes based on eight to ten year cycles, at sites affected by fire.
  • Manage site maintenance activities (i.e. frequency of road grading, slashing of tracks and power line easements) to ensure that individuals (particularly seedlings and juveniles) are not damaged or killed by maintenance works.
  • Manage the impact of environmental weeds through appropriate control programs which stop the spread of and eradicate established weeds and prevent the establishment of new weed species.
  • Maintain existing hydrological regimes and avoid alterations to water tables in future development activities on land within the vicinity of A. attenuata habitats.
  • Prevent disturbance and destruction of native vegetation (i.e. through spot clearing and waste disposal) in native bushland, particularly in urban areas.

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Agriculture and Aquaculture:Land clearing, habitat fragmentation and/or habitat degradation Acacia attenuata in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006c) [Internet].
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Grazing pressures and associated habitat changes Acacia attenuata in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006c) [Internet].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Habitat Shifting and Alteration:Habitat loss, modification and/or degradation National Recovery Plan for Acacia attenuata (Brownlie, H., 2007b) [Recovery Plan].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Ecosystem Degradation:Decline in habitat quality National Recovery Plan for Acacia attenuata (Brownlie, H., 2007b) [Recovery Plan].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Loss and/or fragmentation of habitat and/or subpopulations National Recovery Plan for Acacia attenuata (Brownlie, H., 2007b) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Baccharis halimifolia (Groundsel Bush, Consumption Weed, Groundsel, Groundsel Baccharis, Groundsel Tree) National Recovery Plan for Acacia attenuata (Brownlie, H., 2007b) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Cardiospermum grandiflorum (Balloon Vine, Heart-seed Vine, Large Balloon Creeper, Showy Balloon Vine) National Recovery Plan for Acacia attenuata (Brownlie, H., 2007b) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Schefflera actinophylla (Umbrella Tree, Octopus Tree) National Recovery Plan for Acacia attenuata (Brownlie, H., 2007b) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Tradescantia albiflora (Wandering Jew, Wandering Trad, Trad, Creeping Christian, Wandering Tradescantia, Water Spiderwort, Wandering Willie, Wandering Creeper) National Recovery Plan for Acacia attenuata (Brownlie, H., 2007b) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Asparagus africanus (Climbing Asparagus, Climbing Asparagus Fern) National Recovery Plan for Acacia attenuata (Brownlie, H., 2007b) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Sphagneticola trilobata (Singapore Daisy, Creeping Ox-eye, Trailing Daisy, Wedelia, Creeping Wedelia, Creeping Daisy, Bay Biscayne Creeping Ox-eye, Yellow Dots, Rabbits Paw) National Recovery Plan for Acacia attenuata (Brownlie, H., 2007b) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation by weeds National Recovery Plan for Acacia attenuata (Brownlie, H., 2007b) [Recovery Plan].
Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Alteration of hydrological regimes and water quality National Recovery Plan for Acacia attenuata (Brownlie, H., 2007b) [Recovery Plan].
Acacia attenuata in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006c) [Internet].
Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Changes in hydrology including habitat drainage Acacia attenuata in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006c) [Internet].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity) National Recovery Plan for Acacia attenuata (Brownlie, H., 2007b) [Recovery Plan].
Acacia attenuata in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006c) [Internet].
Pollution:Pollution:Habitat degradation and loss of water quality due to salinity, siltaton, nutrification and/or pollution National Recovery Plan for Acacia attenuata (Brownlie, H., 2007b) [Recovery Plan].
Residential and Commercial Development:Housing and Urban Areas:Habitat loss, modification and fragmentation due to urban development National Recovery Plan for Acacia attenuata (Brownlie, H., 2007b) [Recovery Plan].
Acacia attenuata in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006c) [Internet].
Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low numbers of individuals National Recovery Plan for Acacia attenuata (Brownlie, H., 2007b) [Recovery Plan].
Transportation and Service Corridors:Roads and Railroads:Development and/or maintenance of roads National Recovery Plan for Acacia attenuata (Brownlie, H., 2007b) [Recovery Plan].

Brownlie, H. (2005). Conservation Genetics and Population Ecology of the Vulnerable Acacia attenuata (Mimosaceae). Thesis (Honours). Hons. Thesis. University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia.

Brownlie, H. (2007b). National Recovery Plan for Acacia attenuata. [Online]. Available from:

Brownlie, H., J. Playford, H. Wallace & A. Shapcott (2010). Population ecology and genetics of the vulnerable Acacia attenuata (Mimosaceae) and their significance for its conservation, recovery and translocation. Australian Journal of Botany Vol. 57:675-687.

Clarke P.J. & L. Fulloon (1997). Fire and Rare Plants: Torrington State Recreational Area. Armidale: N.S.W. National Parks and Wildlife Service and University of New England.

Halford, D. (1998). Survey of Threatened Plant Species in South-East Queensland Biographical Region. [Online]. Brisbane: Queensland CRA/RFA Steering Committee. Available from:

Keith, D. (2004). Australian Heath Shrub (Epacris barbata): Viability under Management Options for Fire and Disease. In: Akcakaya, H.R. , M.A. Burgman and O. Kindvall, eds. Species Conservation and Management: Case Studies. Oxford University Press.

Knox. K.J.E. & D.A. Morrison, DA (2005). Effects of Inter-fire Intervals on the Reproductive Output of Resproutrers and Obligate Seeders in the Proteace. Austral Ecology. 30:407-413.

Lebler, B.A. (1981). Wildflowers of South-eastern Queenland. Qld Dept of Primary Industries, Brisbane.

Maroochy Shire Council (MSC) (2001). Our Vanishing Natural Heritage: The Rare and Threatened Species of Maroochy Shire. Nambour:Strategic Planning Services of MSC.

Maslin, B.R. (2001a). Mimosaceae. Acacia part 1. In: Orchard, A.E. & A. Wilson, eds. Flora of Australia. 11A:1-673. Melbourne, Victoria: Australian Biological Resources Study and CSIRO Publishing.

New, TR (1984). Biology of Acacias. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Onans, J. & R.F. Parsons (1980). Regeneration of Native Plants on Abandoned Mallee Farmland in South-eastern Australia. Australian Journal of Botany. 28:479-493.

Orchard, A.E. & A.J.G. Wilson (eds) (2001). Flora of Australia, Volume 11A, Mimosaceae, Acacia Part 1.

Parsons Brinckerhoff (2010). MultiModal Transport Corridor - Supplementary Response to Information Request. Referral reference number: 2008-4361. Department of Transport and Main Roads.

Pedley, L. (1987). Acacias in Queensland. Brisbane: Department of Primary Industries.

Queensland CRA/RFA Steering Committee (1997). Forest taxa at risk, threats, conservation needs and recovery planning in south-east Queensland. Queensland Government & Commonwealth of Australia.

Queensland CRA/RFA Steering Committee (1998). Survey of Threatened Plant Species in South East Queensland Biogeographical Region. [Online]. Available from:

Queensland Department of Natural Resources (Qld DNR) (2000). Species Management Manual. Forest and Fauna Conservation and Ecology Section, Queensland Department of Natural Resouces.

Specht. R. & A. Specht (1999). Australian Plant Communities: Dynamics of Structure, Growth and Biodiversity. Australia:Oxford University Press.

Stanley, T.D. & E.M. Ross (1983). Flora of south-eastern Queensland. Volume One. Brisbane, Queensland: Department of Primary Industries.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Acacia attenuata in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Wed, 16 Apr 2014 16:14:24 +1000.