Latin name: Acacia baileyana “Purpurea” (“ah-KAY-shah bay-lee-AH-nah pur-pur-EE-ah”)
Common name: Purple Fernleaf Acacia, Cootamundra Wattle
Originally from: southern New South Wales, Australia
Blooms: Covered in fragrant bright yellow pom-pom shaped flowers in late winter to early spring.
Light: Full sun.
Water: Winter rain is enough.
Height x width: 20′ x 40′
Where to find in P. Garden: Several are planted at PRG
This is a great street tree: fast-growing and evergreen with weeping branches. silvery blue-gray, feathery leaves that look somewhat purple when they’re young, and give the whole tree a purplish look. That is, when it’s not dripping with bright yellow flowers! It’s low litter (doesn’t drop stuff all over the ground) and won’t get tall enough to damage overhead wires either.
Plant this tree in full sun to light filtered shade; once established it is frost tolerant and very drought tolerant too.
Like a lot of Acacias, it is relatively short lived for a tree but for 30 years or so makes a dramatic statement in the garden as a trained-up street or patio tree or left with lower branches as a large shrub or low branched tree.
This tree won the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit in 1993. It has a very small range in the wild, only seen in areas around Cootamundra in southern New South Wales, Australia where it is commonly called the Cootamundra Wattle.
The species is named after Frederick Manson Bailey (1827-1915), Australian botanist and son of colonial botanist John Bailey (1800-1864). The species was first introduced into California by Dr. Franceschi (Fenzi) in 1903. Naturally occurring purple leaved plants in the wild have been noted to have varying degree of purple in the new growth and the cultivar name “Purpurea” was registered by the Australian Cultivar Registration Authority in 1994.