Sydney Golden Wattle or Yellow Wattle

“The small house could just be seen amongst the yellow wattle.”

The Yellow Wattle in Bollygum is also known as Sydney Golden Wattle.

A.K.A. – Acacia longifolia

Scientific name, Acacia longiflolia.

Acacia is derived from the Greek name akakia, which refers to a thorny wattle that grows on the Nile River in Egypt.

Longifolia is a Latin word, which means ‘long leaves’.

The plant is from the family Fabaceae Mimosoideae. There are more than 950 wattle species in Australia.

The common name ‘Wattle’ was first used by the early British settlers. Wattle was the name of the smaller flexible branches woven in a frame to form a panel used in Anglo-saxon building techniques. The early settlers found that the Acacia was perfect to use for the ancient building method and so it was soon referred to as ‘Wattle’.

wattle construction

‘wattle’ construction

It was named ‘Sydney’ Golden wattle because it is common in the Sydney area.

HABITAT
The Yellow Wattle is native to the east coast of Australia, from Victoria to Queensland, and grows in different types of vegetation — in heathlands, woodlands and forests, often near water in creek beds or swamplands.

Because it grows so easily and has such bright, abundant flowers, it is now being grown around the world, in South Africa, New Zealand, Colombia, Uruguay, Argentina, Indonesia, Israel, Spain, Portugal, Mauritius and the USA.

THE PLANT
The Yellow Wattle can grow to be a large shrub or even a small tree 6-8m tall, but it is usually a bushy shrub, and lives between 10-20 years.

Its bark is grey and smooth.

THE LEAVES
Yellow Wattle leaves are not really leaves, they are actually flat bright to dark green stalks called petiole. They are flat, long and thin, about 20mm wide and 5-20cm long, and narrow towards the tip. On most plants leaves grow from petiole, but not on the Wattles, they don’t actually have any leaves.

THE FLOWERS
The Yellow Wattle has plenty of flowers, which grow from early winter to early spring. They are bright yellow and are long and thin and rod-shaped.

sydney golden wattle

Sydney Golden Wattle also known as Yellow Wattle

THE FRUIT
After the wattle flowers, drooping seed pods develop. These are narrow and long. They start off green at the beginning of summer, but turn brown. In each pod are four to 10 oval black seeds, which are smooth and shiny.

The plants reproduce by planting seeds. They get dispersed by animals, insects and birds, and by people.

NATIVE FRIENDS
When the Yellow Wattle flowers, it attracts bees and other insects. Parrots enjoy the seeds and pods, and wood-boring insects are attracted to the older, more woody plants.

GROW YOUR OWN
Yellow Wattles are popular to grow, because in winter they are a mass of flowers.

They can grow in many soil types, and love plenty of sun.

The Yellow Wattle doesn’t need much attention, and is good for preventing the soil from eroding. It can also form a good wind break. It was used in South Africa to stabilise sand dunes, but then grew so much that it became a weed.

It is tough enough to withstand frost.

A BIT OF HISTORY
The early British settlers constructed wattle and daub buildings using the branches of the Black Wattle (Callicoma serratifolia).

wattle and daub house

Image courtesy of: State Library New South Wales  http://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/ ” This house was constructed in regulation style, without sills, by simply driving saplings into the ground at regular intervals, on either side of which were fastened the wattles or split limbs, forming horizontal half-rounds, the space between them being filled in solid with a mixture of earth, water, and grass. The roof was made of saplings and gum bark, and a chimney erected of slabs and finished with a barrel. A trench was then dug around the hut to drain off the water, and the new residence was complete.  ” Gus Pierce 1871

Early Australian colonial settlers cultivated Wattle and used the bark to tan hides, the tannin from the bark was known for its antiseptic properties.

In 1901, with Federation, Australians looked to native plants to build the nation’s identity.

Archibald Campbell instilled pride in the wattle, and set up Wattle Day in New South Wales in September 1909. This day of celebration was soon taken up in Victoria and Queensland. the 1st of September is Wattle Day.

Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha) was declared the floral emblem of Australia in 1912 and appeared on the coat of arms.

The first Australian stamp with an illustration of wattle was the 1913 penny red stamp.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coat_of_arms_of_Australia

INTERESTING FACTS
Wattle wood is light, tough and hardy, and is used to make tool handles. It can be used as fuel.

Traditionally, Aboriginal Australians also used it as a source of food, gum and fibre.

They created a toffiee by soaking the gum of the golden wattle in water and honey.

When the Sydney Golden Wattle flowered, the Aboriginal people of the Sydney knew it was time to fish for mullet.

CONSERVATION STATUS
In some areas the Acacia longifolia subspecies longifolia has become an environmental weed (Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia)

Bushfires will kill older plants but will stimulate seedlings to germinate. After bushfires masses of new seedlings will appear, ready to replace the older shrubs.

REFERENCES

http://www.anbg.gov.au/emblems/aust.emblem.html
http://www.herbiguide.com.au/Descriptions/hg_Sydney_Golden_Wattle.htm
http://www.hornsby.nsw.gov.au/media/documents/environment-and-waste/bushland-and-biodiversity/native-tree-database-fact-sheets/Fact-sheet-Acacia-longifolia-Sydney-Golden-Wattle.pdf
http://keyserver.lucidcentral.org/weeds/data/03030800-0b07-490a-8d04-0605030c0f01/media/Html/Acacia_longifolia_subsp._longifolia.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petiole_(botany)
http://www.herbiguide.com.au/Descriptions/hg_Sydney_Golden_Wattle.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coat_of_arms_of_Australia
https://romseyaustralia.wordpress.com/2011/12/28/early-australian-settlers-bush-huts-and-homes/

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