Vigorous woody climber or scrambler with stems to 12 metres, found on the margins of rainforest and along the banks of streams, especially in rocky areas, from north-east NSW to north-east Queensland; endemic to Australia. There are some weedy exotics also from the Caesalpinia genus, the one that most looks like this has reddish-brown hairy stems.

Form. Photo: Robert Whyte


Stems bear sharp, curved, reflexed (backward-pointing) prickles, the bark becoming somewhat corky with age. Leaves compound (bipinnate, or twice-divided), opposite, to 40 cm in length, having 4-7 pairs of secondary pinnae, each pinna bearing 14-16 dark green obovate leaflets to 3 cm by 2 cm. Flowers dull yellow, to about 2 cm across, the stamens barely protruding; borne in terminal panicles to about 30 cm in length, appear August to November. Fruit a flattened, winged pod to 5 cm by 1.5 cm, containing a single, patterned seed about 2 cm long, ripe December to March. Flowers attractive to butterflies. Propagation by scarified seed. Requires good drainage. Moderately frost tolerant. Useful for preventing pedestrian access. Seeds very decorative.

Thorns. Photo: Robert Whyte