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 develops a single trunk with a rounded crown of slightly drooping branches. The bark is smooth and grey or grey-brown.
The leaves are made up of numerous blue-grey leaflets in feather-like 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 their sweet fragrance. The flowers produce god amounts of pollen which helps sustain brood-rearing honeybees in winter.
The flowering stems can be cut for use in floral arrangements. Stems suitable for cut-flower harvesting have less than half of their flowers open, with the rest still at the bud stage but already coloured yellow.
Grows and flowers reliably in sub-humid subtropical and tropical mid- to high-elevation climates, generally in areas with annual lows of 8 to 17 °C, annual highs of 20 to 30 °C, annual rainfall of 200 to 1200 mm and a dry season of 8 months or less.
New plants are usually grown from seed which germinate readily. It has
good tolerance 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 and being a nitrogen-fixer, it will thrive in nutrient poor soils.
Pruning each year after flowering helps to improves 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 to be a problem weed in California, South Africa, Zimbabwe and in other regions where it is introduced, probably as an ornamental originally. Ironically, it is a declared noxious weed in Australia, where it its 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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Leech, M. 2013, Bee Friendly: A planting guide for European honeybees and Australian native pollinators, Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC), Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
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Mathias, M. E., 1982, Flowering plants in the landscape, University of California Press, Berkeley
National Research Council (Board on Science and Technology for International Development) 1979, Tropical legumes : resources for the future, The National Academies Press, Washington D. C.
Randall, R. P. 2007, The introduced flora of Australia and its weed status, Cooperative Research Centre for Australian Weed Management, Glen Osmond, South Australia
South East Water Company 1999, Tree roots : a growing problem, South East Water, Moorabbin, Victoria
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