Acacias are reffered as Wattles in Australian, and as Acacia in Africa and America. Acacia is the largest genus of vascular plants in the plant kingdom. The name Acacia is derived from the Greek word akis meaning a point or barb. About 1350 species of Acacia are found throughout the world. Acacia makes an excellent garden plant.
About a 1000 species of Acacias are found in Australia. Commonly known as the Wattle, Australia's National Flower is Acacia pycnantha, the Golden Wattle. Wattle Day is celebrated on the 1st of September each year. Acacias flower throughout the year, particularly in spring and summer.
Acacia Flowers are typically small, yellow and fragrant with many stamens, giving the flower a fuzzy appearance. The Acacia flower heads are actually lots of little flowers bundled together. Acacia Flowers can vary in color from cream, pale yellow through to gold. One species, Acacia purpureapetala, has purple flowers whilst a form of Acacia leprosa has red flowers. Individual Acacia Flowers are arranged in inflorescences that may be either globular heads or cylindrical spikes. Each Acacia inflorescence may comprise from as few as 3 individual flowers (e.g. Acacia lunata) to as many as 130 or more (e.g. Acacia anceps).
Facts About Acacias
- The foliage color of Acacia ranges from light or dark green to blue or silver-grey.
- Acacias are characterised by their small, finely divided leaflets, which give the leafstalk a feathery or fernlike (i.e., pinnate) appearance.
- A large group of Acacias develop modified flat leaf-like structures called phyllodes (which are flattened stems) soon after germination.
- Acacia flowers do not produce any nectar. However, the leaf and phyllode glands secrete a nectar or sugary substance which attracts ants, bees, butterflies and other insects.
- The color of the Acacia flowers in each species is fairly consistent and can aid in identifying different species.
- Acacias produce pods or legumes(straight to highly coiled or twisted, smooth or covered in fine hairs) which contain seeds, these too can be helpful in identification of the species.
- Acacia tree can be raised either from seed, from cuttings, or by grafting.
- Acacia acinacea (Gold Dust Wattle), Acacia adunca(Wallangarra Wattle), Acacia alata, Acacia aneura (Mulga), Acacia baileyana(Cootamundra Wattle), Acacia bancroftii, Acacia beckleri(Barrier Range Wattle), Acacia binervata(Two-veined Hickory), Acacia melanoxylon, Acacia longifolia, Acacia senegal, are some of the species of Acacia.
- Acacias are mostly insect pollinated.
- All parts of the Acacia plant - flowers, leaves and phyllodes, legumes and seeds, stems, trunk and roots are all utilized by hordes of animals.
- The Acacia wood is renowned for its excellent fuel properties and can also produce good charcoal.
- Acacia seeds are often used for food and a variety of other products. The seeds of Acacia niopo, for instance, are roasted and used as snuff in South America.
Acacias can be propagated by two means - from seeds and from cuttings.
- To plant out in the garden select a well-drained spot.
- Clear away any weeds or grass.
- Dig a hole about twice the depth of the pot.
- Fill the hole twice with water allowing the water to drain away each time.
- To release the plant from the pot, hold a hand over the top and around the plant, knock the top of the pot on a firm surface and ease the plant out, Tease out the roots, straighten or trim any of those that are curled.
- Place the plant in the prepared hole planting to the previous soil level, hold the plant upright while the hole is filled with soil.
- Firm around the plant and water in.
- Water the plant about once a week until the new plant is established, especially if conditions are dry.
Acacias Plant Care
- Acacias have no special nutrient needs and will grow well in most desert soils.
- The garden area could be mulched with pine bark or other available material to help prevent drying out.
- But the mulch needs to be kept away from the plant stem to avoid the possible development of stem rot.
- Pruning is advisable each year to maintain a bushy healthy shrub.
- This is best undertaken after flowering.
- Acacia plants should not be left in pots too long before planting in the garden as they quickly develop long root systems.