Wildflowers, Photos ... and Acacias or Wattles

Image Could Not Be FoundHave you ever wondered why our national colours are green and gold? Australia's National Floral Emblem, seen on Australia’s Coat of Arms, is Acacia pycnantha, the Golden Wattle; the green and gold colours of the foliage and flowers provide Australia's official colours.

Acacias belong to the family Mimosaceae. Nearly 1000 species of Acacia are found in Australia. Acacias grow over vast areas of Australia and occupy a wide range of differing habitats. They are particularly common in the arid and dry sub-tropical regions of the country.

Image Could Not Be FoundAustralian acacias are generally small to large shrubs but there are a few grow into large trees. Acacias have both true leaves and phyllodes or modified leaf stalks. The colour of the foliage ranges from light or dark green to blue or silver-grey.

Image Could Not Be FoundMany of us welcome the flowering of wattles as signalling the coming of spring as many species start to flower in late winter. However a wattle can be found in flower somewhere at any time of the year.

Image Could Not Be FoundThe tiny individual flowers are clustered together into an inflorescence that is either a globular head or a cylindrical spike. Acacia flowers vary in colour through cream, pale yellow to orange and gold.

Following flowering, seeds develop in pods that vary in size and shape between species and may be flat or cylindrical, short or elongated. After a few weeks of ripening the pods burst open to release the seeds that can then lie dormant in the soil for many years.

Image Could Not Be FoundAcacias are generally quite fast growing, with many of them not living a long time (10-20 yrs), although a few species may live longer than fifty years, especially those species found in drier areas eg mulga.

Image Could Not Be FoundAll parts of various Acacia species have been used by humans for varying purposes. Aborigines ground dried wattle seeds between stones to form flour which was then baked as a damper.

A feature of many Acacias is their dense hard wood. The Aboriginal people used wood from different species for just about anything that they made out of wood, such as clubs, spears, spear heads, digging sticks, shields, woomeras, boomerangs etc.

Image Could Not Be FoundEuropeans too recognised the value of the wood from some species and used the wood from a few species for cabinet making and ornamental work, including coach building and for beer barrels. Other species were used for such things as gunstocks and even machine bearings, as well as fence posts.

Acacia melanoxylon (Blackwood) is the best known and most highly valued temperate Acacia, producing sought after timber. Tannin has been extracted from the bark of a number of species for use in tanning leather. The most important tannin producing species include Acacia dealbata (Silver Wattle), A. mearnsii (Black Wattle) and A. pycnantha (Golden Wattle).

Image Could Not Be FoundThe quick-growing characteristics of many of the larger Acacia species makes them useful for fodder, the control of soil erosion and for providing fuel for cooking and heating. On our travels into drier parts of the country many of us delight in camp fires of mulga (Acacia aneura) wood, or despair as the sharp points of old roots stake our tyres.

Wattles have been so significant to our social and economic development that we have a special day to celebrate them. Wattle Day, with its long history is celebrated on the 1st of September each year.

Image Could Not Be FoundAll of us have seen wattle and probably used it or its products too. However it is so common and widespread that it’s common to overlook it, and I have done that in taking wildflower photos. I have realised that often I simply overlook the wattles.

Hopefully others have some shots of wattle and some special “Acacia moments” to tell?

A fuller version of this post can be found in this blog

Cheers,

Val.
J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein

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Reply By: Member - Alex B - Saturday, Apr 02, 2011 at 06:04

Saturday, Apr 02, 2011 at 06:04
Hi John & Val,
Thanks for a great post.
Very informative and interesting.

Cheers
Alex B
Enjoy everyday, make your own luck & help a few along the way.

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Reply By: Member - TonBon (NSW) - Saturday, Apr 02, 2011 at 06:44

Saturday, Apr 02, 2011 at 06:44
Great photo,s and gret post Val, i can feel the hayfever coming on already :-)
AnswerID: 450038

Follow Up By: Member - Len M - Saturday, Apr 02, 2011 at 08:09

Saturday, Apr 02, 2011 at 08:09
Have to agree TonBon
Great post and pics. Unfortunately for me it is also a case of Wattle get me first, hayfever or SWMBO. As SWMBO has often said I'm a feral animal, I guess it might be the native wattle. Am I an endangered spices?
The lizard lies!!! without breathing, wattle happen next??
All native plants and animals should be enjoyed in someway
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Reply By: Skippype - Saturday, Apr 02, 2011 at 08:42

Saturday, Apr 02, 2011 at 08:42
John & Val
Once again a wonderfull post. I am sure oneone reading it will learn something new. I sure did.
Great post
Thanks
Skip
AnswerID: 450046

Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, Apr 02, 2011 at 14:15

Saturday, Apr 02, 2011 at 14:15
Hi Val

Like the other replies above, thanks for yet another very informative story about one of Australia's special floral species and our National Emblem.

I am very fortunate that when we recently went over to Kangaroo Island for 9 fantastic days, all the recent rain seems to have thrown a lot on the Native plants into a real spin and many species that should not have been in flower, were.

Here is a couple of pictures of Acacia retinoded (Swamp Wattle) that happened to be flower at Snake Lagoon.


Thanks again for a great story.



Regards


Stephen

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Reply By: Sigmund - Saturday, Apr 02, 2011 at 16:34

Saturday, Apr 02, 2011 at 16:34
Thumbs up.

Thanks.

Mulga and gidgee are among the densest timbers around. Up to 1200kg per cube.
AnswerID: 450095

Reply By: Member - John Baas (WA) - Sunday, Apr 03, 2011 at 12:02

Sunday, Apr 03, 2011 at 12:02
Hi Val, good stuff as always.

Acacias are not my usual subject but I've been able to dig up a couple:


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Cheers.
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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Sunday, Apr 03, 2011 at 17:50

Sunday, Apr 03, 2011 at 17:50
Thanks everyone for your kind comments and photos.

Cheers,

Val
J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein

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