Acacia verticillata

Prickly-leaved wattle

Also known as:

Prickly moses

Family: Fabaceae

Origin: Australia

Close up of prickly leaved wattle flowers and seeds.
From Australia this wattle has distinctive leaves with sharp spikes at the end. Trees do not grow tall and are known to be more like a shrub or a small tree.
Photo credit: Colin Ogle

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • Whole region — Sustained control
  • Hauraki Gulf Controlled Area Notice pest

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Shrub to small tree. Twigs are ribbed and sparsely to densely hairy. Leaves are spiky, < 17 x 4 mm and reduced to phyllodes. Flowers are pale yellow, grouped on inflorescences extending beyond the leaves, and borne in September – November. Pods are usually straight and < 100 x 4 mm.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment, from 1 September 2021, you:

  • will not be allowed to breed, distribute, release or sell prickly-leaved wattle within the Auckland region.
  • will not be allowed to plant prickly-leaved wattle within the Auckland region, unless you are transferring an existing plant on your land to another location within the boundaries of the same property.
  • must destroy any prickly-leaved wattle on land that you occupy if it has been planted in breach of the above rules and you are directed to do so by an authorised person.


Roadsides, wastelands, scrub, wetland and plantation margins, coastal ecosystems, damp areas.


Seeds dispersed by gravity. Human-mediated dispersal through soil movement.

Impact on environment

Can form dense, almost impenetrable stands with little understorey. High invasiveness potential.


Site Management

Follow up treated areas 3 times per year. Crown lift (cut off lower branches) to allow understory plants to establish or to underplant prior to controlling large trees.

Recommended approaches

Physical control

Method: Dig out.

Plant parts requiring disposal: Seeds.

Disposal options: Trees can be chipped and used as mulch, preferably when not in seed.


Biocontrol is currently not available for this species.

Community agrichemical control recommendations

No qualifications: Cut stump and paste freshly cut base of stems with double strength glyphosate gel or ringbark and paste cut with double strength glyphosate gel.

Basic Growsafe certified: Foliar spray seedlings with 200ml glyphosate green per 10L of water or ringbark and spray cut with 750ml glyphosate green per 1 L of water.

Certified Handler/Experienced agrichemical user: Drill and inject trees with 750ml glyphosate green and 10ml penetrant per 1L of water, if safe to do so. Drill 18mm holes (tangentially angled downwards) in a spiral up the trunk.

For 50mm stems drill one hole. For 100mm stems drill two holes. For larger stems drill holes 150mm apart. Foliar spray seedlings with 200ml glyphosate green per 10L of water and 20ml penetrant.

Safety notes

Large trees must not be ringbarked or drilled that are closer than 1.5 times the height of the tree from paths, walkways and property.

Trees over 4 metres in height should be removed by a qualified arborist.

Caution: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Close up of a branch of prickly leaved wattle.
Flowers form on branches and have many long white stamens dotted with yellow pollen. Bees are attracted to the flowers.
Photo credit: Colin Ogle
A prickly leaved wattle tree with lots of flowers.
A hardy plant that is suited to grow in wastelands, scrub, dry and hot conditions, as well as coastal areas. Branches are not palatable and can grow without competition in many areas.
Photo credit: Jeremy Rolfe
A large prickly leaved wattle tree.
Seeds form in pods that grow up to 100mm long. Pods grow and mature over the summer months and burst open when seeds are mature and the pod is dry.
Photo credit: Jeremy Rolfe
Close up of prickly leaved wattle flowers.
These trees can form dense stands that are generally impenetrable due to the prickly leaves. The density of stands can make it challenging for native trees to compete.
Photo credit: Jeremy Rolfe
Close up of prickly leaved wattle flowers in a cluster.
Smaller saplings can be hand pulled for best control and adults can be felled and the stumps treated with herbicide. Cut off low branches and allow native plants to establish prior to removing mature trees.
Photo credit: Jeremy Rolfe