Acacia harpophylla

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Acacia harpophylla
Brigalow leaves and blossom.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Acacia
Species: A. harpophylla
Binomial name
Acacia harpophylla
F.Muell. ex Benth.

Acacia harpophylla, commonly known as brigalow, brigalow spearwood or orkor is an endemic tree of Australia. It is found in central and coastal Queensland to northern New South Wales. It can reach up to 25 metres tall and forms extensive open-forest communities on clay soils.

Remnant brigalow tree, coastal central Queensland, ~20m tall
Brigalow bark

Two species, brigalow (A. harpophylla) and gidgee (A. cambagei) form open woodlands on flat and gently undulating terrain on heavy and relatively fertile clay and clay-loam soils primarily in the 300-700mm annual rainfall region of Eastern Australia. These woodlands extend from a northern extreme of 20o S into northern New South Wales. Brigalow and gidgee occur as mixed communities in some regions and are commonly associated with several other woody species, including overstorey species such as Eucalyptus coolabah, E. cambageana, Casuarina cristata, and a range of understorey species.[1][2] A. tephrina, A. georginae and A. argyrodendron also occupy similar habitats and have similar habits and growth forms, but are less widespread, while a number of other Acacia species also form structurally similar communities [3]

Brigalow occurs from coastal regions receiving in excess of 900mm rainfall per year through to the semi arid 500mm rainfall region although it is primarily a semi-arid zone species.[2][3] Gidgee (A. cambagei) replaces brigalow as rainfall drops in western regions and extends from 650mm-300mm.[4] Gidgee, with a maximum height of approximately 12 metres is somewhat smaller than brigalow which can attain heights of 20 metres.[5] In the north-western regions Black gidgee (A. argyrodendron) replaces brigalow in many areas, while in Central-Western districts Boree (A. tephrina) forms woodlands and shrublands, frequently on cracking clay soils and often in association with A. cambagei. Georgina gidgee (A. georginae) woodlands are found in more arid regions in the 200-250mm rainfall belt.[3]

Species associated with these brigalow communities generally have a good capacity for re-sprouting following fire, and brigalow itself sprouts freely from the butt, roots and living stems in response to fire damage. Both gidgee and blackwood, in contrast, have a limited capacity to resprout following fire damage.[2][3] A notable exception to the fire tolerance of brigalow communities occurs in what are referred to as softwood scrubs, which are dense communities of brigalow and a range of particularly fire-sensitive species.[6] Fire in any brigalow or gidgee woodland would be a rare event under natural circumstances, since pasture is at best sparse in these communities, consisting of Chloris, Paspalidium, Dicanthium, Sporobolus and Eragrostis species.[7]


  1. ^ Scanlan, J. C. (1988). Managing tree and shrub populations. Native pastures in Queensland their resources and management. W. H. Burrows, J. C. Scanlan and M. T. Rutherford. Queensland, Queensland Government Press.
  2. ^ a b c Anderson, E. and P. Back (1990). Fire in brigalow lands. Fire in the management of northern Australian pastoral lands. T. C. Grice and S. M. Slatter. St. Lucia, Australia, Tropical Grassland Society of Australia.
  3. ^ a b c d Johnson, R. W. and W. H. Burrows (1994). Acacia open forest, woodlands and shrublands. Australian Vegetation. R. H. Groves. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
  4. ^ Weston, E. J. (1988). The Queensland Environment. Native pastures in Queensland their resources and management. W. H. Burrows, J. C. Scanlan and M. T. Rutherford. Brisbane, Queensland Government Press.
  5. ^ Anderson, E. R. (1993). Plants of Central Queensland. Brisbane, Queensland Government Press.
  6. ^ Flannery, T. (1994). The future eaters. Frenchs Forest, Australia., Reed New Holland.
  7. ^ Weston, E. J. (1988). Native Pasture Communities. Native pastures in Queensland their resources and management. W. H. Burrows, J. C. Scanlan and M. T. Rutherford. Brisbane, Department of Primary Industries.