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Prickly moses is a short-lived (approximately 20-30 years) shrub-small tree. Twigs are ribbed and sparsely to densely hairy. Leaves reduced to flattened leaf stalks (phyllodes) up to 17 x 4mm, and spiked. Flowers are pale yellow and solitary, but grouped on flower heads (inflorescences) that extend beyond the leaves during September-November. Seeds are contained in pod (usually straight), and up to 100 x 4mm.
Preferred habitats include roadsides, waste places, scrub, margins of exotic plantation forests, coastal ecosystems. It prefers sandy soils, wetland margins and damp areas.
Prickly moses is a nitrogen-fixer, giving them the competitive advantage in poor soil conditions. Spines on the branches of the tree help to discourage mammalian browsers such as possums. In general, their seeds are locally dispersed by gravity. There is however, also the potential for human-mediated seed dispersal in soil movement. The species also has a long-lived seed bank, germinating well following soil disturbance or fire.