Dead Finish (Acacia tetragonophylla) is often found as a straggly looking shrub that can grown to about 2-3 metres high. The common name for this shrub is ‘Dead Finish’. There is a number of reasons for this name, being that ‘when the cows start eating the Dead Finish bush, everything else has died’ or ‘in a bad drought, this is the last bush to die’. The Aboriginal name for the plant, from the Warlpiri language is ‘Kurara’. The Arrernte name is ‘Arlketyerre’.

This wattle grows in a variety of soils and conditions from dry sandy regions, dry stony hillsides and desert regions of Australia, stretching from the west coast through Central Australia (southern Northern Territory and South Australia), into outback New South Wales and outback Queensland.

Each golden globular flower grows on its own stalk, singularly or in clusters of 2-5 from the bases of four-sided needle-like leaf clusters. The leaves are spiny with sharp points. The seed pods are curved, narrow and twisted with constrictions between the seeds.

The Aborigines use the plant in a number of ‘bush medicine’ applications. The Arrernte people use the sharp spiky leaves to treat warts. The bark from roots is also steeped in water to make an antiseptic solution for treating sores. They also gather the seeds grinding them for cakes, although they are also known to eat the seeds raw.

Common name
Dead Finish, Curara, Kurara, Prickly wattle.

Arrernte name: Arlketyerre
Pronounced: arl-KIT-chur-ra
Arrernte seeds: Merne ntange arlketyerre
Warlpiri name: Kurara

Acacia — comes from the Greek ‘akakia’, meaning sharp point.
tetragonophylla — comes from the Greek, tetra meaning four, gonia meaning an angle, phullo, phullon meaning leaf / leaflet.


  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Clade: Tracheophytes
  • Clade: Angiosperms
  • Clade: Eudicots
  • Clade: Rosids
  • Order: Fabales
  • Family: Fabaceae
  • Clade: Mimosoideae
  • Genus: Acacia
  • Species: A. tetragonophylla
  • Binomial name: Acacia tetragonophylla

Footnote & References

  1. Dead Finish – Olive Pink Botanic Garden
  2. Dead Finish – Alice Springs Desert Park
  3. Dead finish or Prickly wattle, by Horst Weber, Australian plants online, http://anpsa.org.au/APOL14/jun99-2.html