When walking or driving in the bushland at this time of the year you will notice cheerful splashes of yellow blossom.
These yellow flowering plants are Acacias, commonly known as wattles.
In Australia there are over 700 species of wattle varying from large trees to prostrate shrubs.
Acacias are nitrogen fixing plants and are important source of nutrients for other bushland plants.
In order to conserve moisture many Acacias have replaced their soft pinnate leaves with modified stems called phyllodes resulting in many unusual shapes such as Acacia glaucoptera and Acacia merinthophora.
Acacia flowers are either small fluffy balls or elongated rods. Colour can be almost white to golden yellow. Each flower is a compound of many tiny flowers.
The fruit is a pod similar to a pea and as soon as the seed is ripe the pod splits to disperse the seed. Acacias have very hard seed coats which enables the seed to stay viable for many years. Fire is quite often the trigger for Acacias seed to germinate.
In the Katanning area we have two small tree species “jam trees” or Acacia acuminata and “manna wattle” or Acacia microbotrya. Most of the other Acacias are small shrubs or ground covers and are often very prickly.
Acacias were important to Aboriginal people as they supplied seed for flour, sap for a sweet drink, and timber for spears, boomerangs and handles for tools.
Acacias are the preferred host for root parasitic plants such as Sandalwood and Quangdong.
Thanks to Bev Lockley, David Secomb, Jill Richardson from the Katanning Wildflower Group for this post.
Author: Andrea Salmond
Andrea has been with Katanning Landcare since 2013 and is passionate about equipping people with the tools, skills and resources they need to make positive changes to our environment.