Acacia baileyana (Fernleaf Acacia) - A fast-growing small evergreen tree that grows to 20-30 foot tall by usually a bit wider with silvery blue-gray, feathery leaves on weeping branches. Bright golden yellow, small, rounded flowers bloom late winter through early spring.
Plant in full sun to filtered shade where once established it is frost tolerant and moderately drought tolerant. Hardy to 15-20 degrees F. As with many in the genus, it is relatively short lived for a tree but for 30 years or so makes a dramatic statement in the garden as a trained-up street or patio tree or left with lower branches as a large shrub or low branched tree. A great plant for slopes.
Matt Ritter in his A Californian's Guide to the Trees Among Us in his listing for Acacia baileyana notes that "This species is popular as a shapely, midsized street tree in cooler coastal cities". It has been identified as invasive in other mediterranean climate regions of the world and documented to have reseeded in areas within California, so is best not used near the urban–rural interface or close to sensitive wildland habitats.
Acacia baileyana has a very restricted natural distribution confined to the vicinity of Cootamundra in southern New South Wales, Australia where it is commonly called the Cootamundra Wattle. The name Acacia 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 honors the Frederick Manson Bailey (1827-1915), Australian botanist and son of colonial botanist John Bailey (1800-1864). The species, Acacia baileyana was first introduced into California in 1903 by Dr. Francesco Franceschi (Emanuele Orazio Fenzi). The purple leafed cultivar Acacia baileyana 'Purpurea' cultivar that we grow came into cultivation in California around 1935, both it and the species received the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit in 1993.
Information about Acacia baileyana displayed on this page is based on our research about it conducted in our library and gathered from reliable online sources. We include observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery gardens and in other gardens that we have visited, as well as how the crops have performed in containers in our own nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others about this plant when we feel it adds information and particularly welcome hearing from anyone who has any additional cultural recommendations that would aid others in growing it.