Text and images by Warren Sheather , 2010
In Australia spring heralds a bonanza of colour as the Acacias (wattles) burst into bloom. This is the only continent where a single plant genus dominates the spring landscape.
World-wide there are more than 1500 Acacia species. They are found in the tropic and temperate regions of all continents except Europe. Australia has the lion's share with about 1000 species. This is a rubbery figure as new species are being discovered and named w ith monotonous regularity. The Northern Tablelands, of NSW, is home to a surprising 64 species.
Acacias may be divided into two (2) broad categories:
1. The minority have "ferny" foliage similar to the well-known and widely-cultivated Acacia baileyana, the Cootamundra Wattle.
2. The majority, of Australia's Acacias, have leaf-like structures known as phyllodes. These are modified leaf stems or petioles that help to reduce water loss from the plant.
Acacias appreciate pruning. After flowering each branch should be cut off behind the spent flowers. This encourages fresh growth, keeps the foliage dense, increases flowering and prolongs the life of the plant.
Acacias are usually propagated from seed. They have hard seed coats and should be soaked in boiling water for a few minutes before sowing. There are also some species that may be propagated from cuttings.
There is a wattle for every garden situation. They range in size from ground covers to trees. Below is a selection of species that are found on the Northern Tablelands and that will survive and thrive in the garden.
Known as the Poverty or Mitta Wattle is a small to medium shrub. The narrow phyllodes are about 12 centimetres long and greyish-green
in colour. Small globular flower heads contain 4-8 golden yellow individual flowers.
The Waterfall Way, east of Armidale is one of the strongholds of the Mitta Wattle. There was originally a population near Cooney Station, 20 kilometres from Armidale. Due mainly to disturbance by roadworks, the population has steadily advanced towards Armidale along the Waterfall Way. Acacia dawsonii occurs along the Tablelands and Slopes of NSW as well as southern Queensland and northern Victoria.
TheBox-leaf Wattle, is a small to medium shrub. The phyllodes are about 35
millimetres long, up to 14 millimetres wide and usually grey-green although there is a form
with a purplish tinge to the foliage. The flower heads are globular, about one centimetre in
diameter and golden yellow.
A form grows along the Long Point Road near Hillgrove that only reaches a height of one metre.
As well as the Northern Tablelands, Acacia buxifolia is found in southern Queensland, through the Slopes and Tablelands of NSW to northern Victoria.
The Boomerang Wattle, is an erect shrub that will reach a height of two metres.
The phyllodes are 3-7 centimetres long and about one centimetre wide. There are three
nectar-secreting glands on the phyllode margins. This is a distinctive feature. The globular
flower heads contain 6-12 individual, bright yellow flowers. During spring the flowers are
both profuse and very conspicuous.
Acacia amoena is found in the Apsley Falls area and beside the Oxley Highway, east of Walcha at Stony Creek.
The Boomerang Wattle also occurs in Queensland and Victoria.
Is a magnificent tall wattle with phyllodes ten centimetres long,
two centimetres wide and sickle-shaped. Golden yellow flowers are carried in long, dense spikes.
Pairs of flower spikes are carried at the base of each phyllode.
Acacia pycnostachya is classified as a rare species with very limited distribution.
The Bolivia Range, north of Glen Innes, is the only occurrence of this handsome wattle.
These are just a small number of the Acacias from the Northern Tablelands of NSW suitable for cultivation.
Acacia ingramii - Gorge Wattle - an indigenous plant discovered by Keith Ingram, a local school inspector (in the 1950's-60's) and it was named in his honor.