Acacia pendula (Fabaceae: Mimosoideae) in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales: Cunningham’s collection from April 1825 and its implications
Keywords:Acacia pendula, Allan Cunningham, threatened flora
Previous debate on the status of Acacia pendula A.Cunn. (Fabaceae: Mimosoideae) in the natural flora of
the Hunter region of New South Wales remains unresolved. However, the discovery of a journal entry and a
specimen of Acacia pendula collected from ‘Hunter’s River’ by Allan Cunningham in April 1825 potentially
provide evidence for its long-term presence there. Close examination of a scan of this specimen reveals a poor
match to the lectotype for this species, and its infertile nature means that it cannot be positively identified
using taxonomic keys. Rediscovery of a small group of Acacia ‘pendula’ plants near to where Cunningham
travelled in 1825 confirms the sterile and root-suckering habit of the species which is consistent with those
growing elsewhere in the region. Despite this find, Cunningham’s journal entry and collection provide no
confirmation that Acacia pendula naturally occurred extensively in the region (although it may have been
very rare) but could suggest either that he had located one of the first introduced stands of the species in the
region (through indigenous people or European settlers), or that these sterile root-suckering plants represent
a currently un-named taxon or un-recognised hybrid. Final resolution of Hunter Valley populations of Acacia
pendula s. lat. may only be attained through genetic studies.
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