“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.

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 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.

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 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

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.

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.

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.

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 ” 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.


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.

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.


Orange Passionflowers

‘Wombat lived in a small house under the shadow of a tall ghost gum.

Perfumes from his garden of orange passionflowers and pink boronias filled the air. ‘

A.K.A. Blunt-leaved passionfruit Native passionfruit Red passionflower

Botantical Name:   Passiflora Aurantia (Passiflora comes from the Greek passio, meaning passion, which refers to the ‘passion of Christ’. If you look at Passionflower species found elsewhere, the choice of name is easier to understand as the busier, more intricate varieties obviously reminded someone of the crown of thorns. Aurantia comes from the Latin word aurantius, which means orange coloured.)

The Orange Passionflower found in Wombat’s garden is one of two native passionfruit plant species found in Australia. This plant occurs naturally from north-eastern New South Wales up to north Queensland, and grows on the edges of the rainforest or in sandy loam soils where nutrients are low.  It is common in Cairns.

This plant is a climber. Its slender vine develops wonderful curly bits to help it grab on to other plants and branches. Its green leaves are flat, with three shallow rounded lobed ends, and grow up to 7cm long.

The flowers are about 4-8 cm in diameter. When they first start to open the petals are creamy in colour before gradually turning to pink and then orangey red over a 3-7 day period; the flowers never open completely before falling off. The flowers on one plant will all bloom at different times, so all the stages of the colour variations can be seen together when the plant is in flower. This plant flowers mainly in Winter and Spring, but does produce some flowers all year round.

From the flower comes the green round fruit. The pulp is greyish in colour and filled with black seeds, each about 3mm x 2mm. The fruit turns slightly purple when ripe. The pulp is edible, but apparently it doesn’t taste very nice.

Butterflies, bees and some birds are attracted to the Passionflower. It provides good shelter for small birds and a bridge between the lower and higher plants.

You can grow Orange Passionflowers in temperate climates. They do quite well both indoors and out, in full sun to semi-shade, but they don’t like the frost. Plant in fairly rich soils with average drainage. If you feed your Passionflower too much nitrogen, it won’t flower. You can plant it from seeds or from new growth cuttings. If growing from seeds, clean and dry the seeds from very overripe but unblemished fruits. The seeds and seedling are available from various on-line nurseries.

Though there are only two native Passionflower species in Australia, another four six species are found in this country. There are about 500 species globally. The non-native Australian species were introduced as ornamental flowers, and of course the common Passionfruit was introduced for its fruit. The bad species that cause problems are Corky Passionflower (Passiflora suberosa), Stinking Passionsfruit (Passiflora foetida) and White Passionflower (Passiflora subpeltata). Although we would not like to eat their fruit, some birds and animals do, and this has helped to spread these environmental weeds around, smothering native vegetation. The Australian native varieties are not invasive and don’t smother other plants.

Passiflora Aurantia was one of the native Australian plants included in the Botanical illustrations from the voyage of HMS Endeavour (1776-1771). Artist Sydney Parkinson recorded most of the flora and fauna from this voyage. Sadly, he passed away at sea, but after the voyage other artists back in England embellished his sketches, under Sir Joseph Banks’ guidance and sponsorship, into wonderful engravings using Parkinson’s work as reference.

Passiflora Aurantia engraving
Caption on botanical Illustration from the Voyage of HMS Endeavour: “S. Parkinson del. 1770 / F.P. Nodder pinx.1780 / Plate 134 / D.MacKenzie sculps. / “PASSIFLORA AURANTIA… / Thirsty Sound, Australia / 29 May- 31 May 1770′ The specimen for this engraving came from Thirsty Sound on the Queensland coast. (about 500km north of Brisbane) Notes from the voyage:

‘May 29th 1770 ….   Anchored at Thirsty Sound [Town of 1770] and spent one night on the ship and landed searching for water but none found. Banks was enthused with all the botany and much impressed by the butterflies.’

It is interesting the butterflies are mentioned, as the Passionflower plant is a favourite food plant for the larvae of the Cruiser and Glasswing butterflies. Butterflies, bees and some birds are attracted to the Passionflower, and it’s a food plant for the larva of the Cruiser and other butterflies. CONSERVATION STATUS
Passiflora Aurantia still thrives, and is not considered to be at risk in the wild.

Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 4.04.25 pm Passiflora Aurantia engraving Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 4.03.26 pm


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