The wattle tree, an Aussie icon

Wattles or acacias are an Aussie icon. The floral emblem of Australia, this showy flowering shrub or tree also gives us the famous green and gold international sporting colours. It’s easy to see why the wattle is such an icon: of the 1200 or so species worldwide, more than 1000 of them are found only in Australia. Western Australia has the most species (450–500), and the Australian Capital Territory is home to the national emblem species.

This incredibly varied group of Aussie flowering plants grows in nearly all parts of the Australian mainland as well as Tasmania. Lots are found in arid Australia, but fewer of them in dense rainforests or alpine regions. While some species grow into tall trees that will live 200 to 300 years, most often wattles are fast-growing shrubs that reach only 3 to 4 metres and live only about 12 years. Some species are ground cover plants just 10cm high, and two species in far north Queensland are even lianas.

Wattle flowers and fragrance

Most species sport bright yellow flowers, but some are cream or even red, such as “Scarlet blaze” (Acacia leprosa). This red species was only discovered in 1995 by bushwalkers in Victoria, and became Victoria’s Centenary of Federation floral emblem. You can buy it from nurseries.

In our part of the country, wattles are known for flowering in autumn and winter. Showy species that will grow well in our sub-tropical climate include zig-zag wattle (Acacia macradenia). If you are after that famous wattle fragrance, we can recommend moon wattle (Acacia semilunata) and the Sydney golden wattle (Acacia longifolia). Again, you can pick up these fragrant lovelies at nurseries.

A bit of wattle botany

A few fun botany facts about wattles: the leaves of most species are botanically speaking not leaves at all. They are flat-shaped leaf stalks technically known as “phyllodes”. This makes them very resistant to moisture loss, meaning they will continue to flourish even in droughts.

More wattle botany: wattle roots are legumes, which means they partner with bacteria to fix their own nitrogen from the atmosphere. What a marvel the wattle is!

Wattle for your garden

Wattles are perfect for new gardens. They establish well in disturbed soil, and lots of early rapid growth in the first 2 to 3 years makes them great for getting your garden started, or for creating animal habitat or a screen for privacy.

Contact AllRound Tree Services today for all advice and services for your wattles.