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Sydney golden wattle is a shrub or small tree that grows up to about 10m tall. Its leaves are narrow (approximately 2cm wide and 13cm long) with two prominent veins. It produces spikes of pale- or golden-yellow flowers during July - August and a seed pod up to 120mm long.
Sydney golden wattle favours open and/or disturbed habitats including coastal dunes, riparian areas, dry banks, transport corridors, scrub and open forest (e.g. coastal pōhutukawa forest), and “wastelands”. It tolerates frost, drought, and salt spray.
Sydney golden wattle has high growth rates and uses a lot of water, so it can shade-out other species and reduce water availability. Its deep leaf litter layer suppresses the establishment of seedlings and its ability to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere into the soil gives it a competitive advantage in a wide range of soil types.
Sydney golden wattle produces large quantities of seeds that can remain viable in the soil for up to 50 years. Fire and other disturbance can stimulate seed germination. It also has an extensive history of invasiveness overseas.