Native to Australia, this flowering shrub to small tree is typically 3 to 5 m (10 to 16 ft) tall, occasionally reaching heights of up to 9 m (30 ft). In shrub form, it is multi-trunked and low-branching. Otherwise, it has a single trunk supporting a rounded crown of drooping branches. The bark is smooth and grey or grey-brown.
The leaves consist of numerous blue-grey leaflets in a feathery arrangement. Their unusual colour adds contrast and interest to the masses of showy, yellow puff-ball-like flowers that bloom from late winter through spring. The flowers give off a sweet fragrance, with a scent that reminds one of honey and are followed by brown-black seedpods that mature in late summer.
It is cultivated mainly in gardens for its showy flowers and sweet fragrance. The flowers produce god amounts of pollen which helps sustain brood-rearing honeybees in winter.
Flowering stems are cut for floral arrangements. Suitable stems have less than half of their flowers open, with the rest still at the bud stage but already yellow-coloured.
Grows and flowers reliably in sub-humid subtropical and tropical mid- to high-elevation climates, generally areas with annual lows of 7 to 17°C, annual highs of 17 to 30°C, annual rainfall of 200 to 1200 mm and a dry season of 8 months or less.
New plants are usually started from seed that germinate readily.
It is tolerant of a wide range of moist, free-draining clay, loam and sand soils of a moderately acid to neutral nature, generally with a pH of 5.5 to 7.0. Being a nitrogen-fixing plant, it will thrive on nutrient-poor soils.
Pruning each year after flowering helps to improve flowering performance the following year. A relatively short-lived tree species, it has a lifespan of just fifteen to twenty years.
Seed-eating birds are known to disperse the seed outside of cultivation. It also re-seeds readily and is reported as a problem weed in California, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and in other regions where it is introduced, probably originally as an ornamental. Ironically, it is declared a noxious weed in Australia, where it is native.
The vigorous roots can block sewer and other underground pipes. A minimum planting distance of six meters from underground pipes is recommended.
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