Fabaceae (pea family) Acacia

Acacia cultriformis knife-leaf acacia

Eastern Australia
Acacia cultriformis on Campus Drive. Sairus Patel, 17 Feb 2022
Acacia cultriformis flowers, flowerbuds, and triangular phyllodes. Sairus Patel, 17 Feb 2022

A shrubby acacia that has reappeared on campus after an absense of several decades. The triangular, grayish phyllodes, about ½ inch long, are quite distinctive and, if not quite like knives, could be thought of as grotesque choppers. Look at one closely: a longitudinal vein runs through its lopsided form, with a small point at its tip. A gland will be found at the curved edge of the margin. Golden flower-balls appear in February on branches that seem to explode in all directions, in contrast with the weeping form of Acacia vestita on Manzanita Field.

Old specimens grown as small trees were reported off Palm Drive, opposite Palo Road, in the 1980s. The construction of Escondido Village Graduate Residences in 2020 saw a couple of dozen planted along the Campus Drive and Serra Street sidewalk, with several clustered around the Eucalyptus nicholii in front of the Pavilion. More are strewn on the east side of Building A and at the sand volleyball court nearby.

Name derivation: Acacia – Greek akis, a sharp point; cultriformis – Latin, shaped like a knife blade (the phyllodes).

About this Entry: Added Mar 2023 by Sairus Patel, using material from Ron Bracewell’s 1984 Trees on the Stanford Campus.