Ask any Australian to name a flowering Australian plant and there is a good chance that their answer will be ‘Wattle’.
In fact Australia’s floral emblem is the Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha).
So what do you need to know about Wattles?
Australia celebrates Wattle Day on the 1st of September each year. While wattles will vary in their flowering time, particularly in the southern parts of the country, many Wattles are in flower at the beginning of the southern hemisphere spring.
The are over 1,000 wattle species in Australia.
Is it true that some wattles don’t have true leaves?
While Wattle seedlings have bipinnate fern-like leaves, the majority of mature Wattles don’t have ‘true’ leaves.
A few species do retain ‘true’ leaves into maturity, the leaves of others are replaced with ‘phyllodes’ (A leaf like structure). A phyllode can be up to 30 cm long in the case of flat and broad phylogeny of Acacia dunnii (or the Elephant Ear Wattle) but other phyllodes come in a range of shapes and sizes including cylindrical, needle-shaped, stubby or completely absent.
Are all Wattle flowers yellow?
Most wattle flowers are a range of shades of yellow. However, Acacia purpureopetala found in north Queensland has mauve-pink flowers, and Acacia gilbertii found in south-western Western Australia has white flowers. There are also two forms from Victoria where one has red flowers and the other has orange flowers.
The red flower form Acacia leprosa ‘Scarlet Blaze’ was found in Victoria 1995 by two bush walkers – it became Victoria’s Centenary of Federation floral emblem and is available in plant nurseries.
What’s in a name?
The name ‘Wattle’ comes from an Anglo-Saxon building technique. Wattles were flexible twigs or small branches interwoven to form the framework of buildings. This style of building was introduced to Australia by early British settlers and species of Acacia were used as Wattles.
Australian floral emblem
Do Wattles cause hay fever?
Acacia paradoxa (Kangaroo Thorn) in the Canberra Nature Reserve
Light yellow Wattle variety
Acacia baleyana (Cootamundra Wattle) in flower. This Wattle is such a vigorous grower that it’s considered a weed in many parts of Australia
Acacia floribunda (Coastal Wattle)
White flower Wattle in Bungonia National Park, southern NSW
Wattle leaves are variable ranging in colour and shape
Immature Wattle seed pods
Mature seed pods on a Wattle plants
Mature Wattle seeds
Ground cover Wattle