Acacia aphylla (Live Wire) - A very interesting and attractive upright spiny leafless shrub that can grow 6 to 9 feet tall but usually is seen around 4 to 6 feet tall. It has intricately branching smooth blue-green rounded stems that are sharp tipped but soft enough to not be terribly dangerous. In late winter to mid spring appear the individual bright yellow globular flower heads at stem branches with each cluster having 20 to 30 small flowers.
Plant in full to part sun in a well-drained soil and irrigate infrequently to not at all once established. This is a drought tolerant plant in our mediterranean climate and is hardy down to at least to 18 to 20°F. The leafless stems have the chlorophyll that enables it to photosynthesize without leaves, much the way cacti and succulents do to conserve water, and some consider this plant to be a succulent although it really is a woody shrub. If it gets out of bounds, prune it hard after flowering and allow to regenerate within a few months. Super tough and drought tolerant in the ground and an excellent and attractive container plant.
Acacia aphylla has a very restricted natural range in open forests on hillsides amongst granite outcrops with two populations in the Darling Range east of Perth in Western Australia. It was listed as vulnerable and then became protected under the Endangered species Protection Act 1992. The name for the genus comes either from the Greek word "akazo" meaning "to sharpen" or from the Egyptian word "akakia", a name given to the Egyptian Thorn, Acacia arabica. The specific epithet is from the Greek words 'a' meaning "without" and 'phyllos' meaning leaves in reference to the absence of leaves (phyllodes). The most common of the common names for this plant is Leafless Rock Wattle and it is also called Twisted Desert Wattle, but when we saw the common name Live Wire, we decided this was such a great name that this is how we list this plant.
Our thanks go out to Jo O'Connell at Australian Native Plant Nursery, who first introduced us to this species, and to Gerhard Bock who gave us seed from the plant growing in his Davis, California garden that he got from Troy McGregor at Waltzing Matilda Nursery.
The information about Acacia aphylla displayed on this page is based on research conducted in our nursery library and from online sources we consider reliable. We will also relate those observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery gardens and in other gardens that we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments we receive from others and welcome hearing from anyone who has additional information, particularly when they share cultural information that would aid others in growing it.