Wattle trees or Acacias, are a fascinating group of plants. They are found in many areas of Australia, and you can see them in flower at just about any time of the year.
The iconic Australian Wattle Tree is a member of the Acacia family found in every state they vary greatly from species to species. We mostly associated the name with the flowering wattles and indeed they are most widely known for the golden yellow wattle flowers that cover the trees in spring their is a lot more to wattles than pretty flowers.
Used by early settlers as a building material (wattle and daub) the flexible young saplings were woven together and then coated with a mixture of mud and dung.
Wattle Tree Varieties
The Black Wattle or Acacia mearnsii was probably the most widely used by both early settlers and aboriginals.
The Golden Wattle or Acacia pycnantha is the floral symbol of Australia and is found widely across South Eastern Australia (Victoria and South Australia)
The well known Cootamundra Wattle Acacia baileyana was widely planted as a flowering ornamental tree, and in it’s natural environment in the Snowy Mountains it looks magnificent. However it does have a tenancy to ‘self seed’ and is regarded as a weed in some areas. Wattle trees set seed in pods, the pods dry out over the summer months and then pop open spreading small black seeds widely around the surrounding area. Seeds are particularly tough and actually require a fair amount of heat to germinate.
The Silver Wattle or Acacia delebatais widespread along the East Coast from NSW to Tasmania. Acacia boormanii is the SnowyRiver Wattle.
Flowering wattles tend to be fairly short lived, so if used as a feature tree or landscaping tree they need to be replaced as they age and begin to drop branches, however not all ‘Wattles’ grow the same way. When we move away from the stereotype flowering tree we begin to look at some very useful landscaping species as well as timber producing species such as the Blackwood or Acacia melanoxylon.
Wattle trees are fast growing and are therefore very useful if you are looking to establish a quick screen or windbreak while waiting for slower growing but longer lasting species to become established. Fertilizer is rarely required and once established wattle trees are regarded as drought tolerant.
Interesting species such as the ‘Leafless Rock Wattle’ or Acacia aphllya (pictured below left) which is regarded as a succulent can make a fascinating addition to the garden.
Many species such as Acacia floribunda or ‘White Sally Wattle’ and Acacia cognata will grow well and will flower in part shade or light shade.
Wattle Trees – Year Round Flowers
With careful selection you could have year round flowers. We look at a list of well known species, the growth habit and when they flower.
The start of the year brings Acacia uncinata into flower. This is commonly called the Weeping Wattle and it reach around 3 – 4 metres in height. This species requires very good drainage.
At the same time Acacia retinodes or Wirilda Watle flowers and this is one for wet soils.
Acacia maidenii is a widespread species from Victoria to Queensland and will flowers in late summer.
From the Kimberly we have Acacia sunni, or Elephants Ear Wattle, it flowers over 3 months and has amazing foliage.
Acacia longissima or Long Leaf Wattle is a long flowering species.
We also have Acacia linifolia, commonly called the Flax Wattle, a shrub plant to around 3 metres in height.
Acacia conferta, a tough shrub plant, easy prune, use it as a hedge and it is both drought and frost tolerant.
Acacia suaveolens or Sweet Wattle comes not flower. This is a smaller growing plat that only reaches a metre or two in height. Its fast growing and a great little plant for establishing new gardens.
Acacia genistifolia is the Spreading Wattle, low growing, prickly and a great habitat for birds. It will flower for a few months.
As we move well into Autumn a little extra colour is appreciated and Acacia podalyrifolia or Mt Morgan Wattle is one that provides the garden with masses of flowers.
You could also look for Acacia flexifolia or Bent-leaf Wattle. A useful small shrub that will flower into winter. Another that can be pruned for use as a small hedging plant.
Acacia terminals or Sunshine Wattle is another great tree for establishing new gardens. Fast growing, and it can be pruned.
Acacia aculeatissima or Snake Wattle is small, winter flowering and an interesting species.
Acacia buckler is the Barrier Range Wattle, a very tough plant with large flower heads.
The Snowy River Wattle or Acacia boormanii is well known.A medium sized sub that is covered in flowers in winter.
Another for the birds is the aptly named ‘Prickly Mosses’ or Acacia verticillata. It will grow in damp soils.
Acacia myrtifolia flowers from winter right through until spring, fast growing and easy care.
Acacia aphylla is the Leafless Wattle, the modified leaves look like stems, however it does flower in winter.
Acacia gracilifolia or Graceful Wattle is from South Australia and will grow well in frost free areas.
The Gold Dust Wattle is Acacia acinacea, shrub to around 3 metres, aching growth habit and attractive flowers.
Acacia acuminata from Western Australia flowers in late winter, also known as the Raspberry Jam Tree.
Acacia rossei or Rosse’s Wattle is another from WA.
Acacia papyrocarpa is a small spreading tree known as the Western Myall and it will flowers through until October.
Acacia pycnantha is the well known Golden Wattle, and the first of September is Golden Wattle Day
Acacia drummondii flowers in September, and is best pruned immediately after it does flower, simply called the Drummond Wattle.
Acacia stricta or Hop Wattle will grow in part shade and flowers well. Another that like moist soils.
The Ovens Valley Wattle is Acacia pravissima, well known, masses of creamy yellow flowers and a harbinger of spring.
The Varnish Wattle, Acacia venniciflua is another easy care species that flowers in spring.
Acacia leprosa ‘Scarlet Blaze’ Cinnamon Wattle with its red flowers is the most unusual of all.
Other for September include Acacia conspersa from the Northern Territory. Acacia aneura Acacia floribunda or Gossamer Wattle) … Acacia howittii or Sticky Wattle.
Acacia drummondii is Western Australia species that flowers from September through to November.
Acacia alata is the Winged Wattle, a small species to around 1 metre, flowers are a creamy yellow and this species likes a little shade.
Most forms of Acacia cognata will flower in October, commonly caller the River Wattle, the dwarf cultivars usually do not flower at all.
Acacia cardiophylla or Wyalong Wattle is a small tree that will flower through until December.
Acacia glaucoptera is the Clay Wattle, not widely grown and perhaps deserving more attention. The new foliage is a bronze colour and this contrasts with the yellow flowers.
Acacia buxifolia or Box Leaf Wattle is a medium sized shrub, good yellow flowers from spring through to summer.
Acacia mitchellii is a small to medium sized shrub, best in full sun.
Acacia implexa is a small tree commonly called Lightwood, creamy yellow flowers through summer.