The generic name Acacia is derived from the Greek ‘akis’, a point, referring to the prickly leaves of some species. Acacia is the largest genus in the Mimosa family, which is mainly tropical and sub-tropical in distribution. Over 900 species are endemic (only found) in Australia. Flowers are usually globe-shaped, but may also be cylindrical, and are made up of many long stamens that give the flowers a fluffy appearance when they are open. Each flower has five very small petals, but these are usually hidden at the base of the flower. The fluffy open flowers will not last more than5 to 7 days, as the display is made up of very thin and delicate stamens, which wilt much quicker than petals. Flower colour is typically yellow, but some species bear cream flowers, while purple and even red (A. leprosa) are rarely found. Although wattle flowers produce copious amounts of pollen they do not cause ‘hay fever’ in spring, contrary to popular belief.
Wattle flowers are usually sold as branches that are picked from plantations. Most are grown in WA, SA, Vic, NSW or QLD.
Types: Acacia acinacea, A.dealbata, A.retinodes, A. baileyana, A. buxifolia, A. macrodenia (zigzag), A.leprosa(red form).
What to look for
- Buy when about 1/3 to ½ of the flowers in a bunch are open;
- Buds should be yellow in colour;
- Avoid bunches with brown flowers, or with dried, curled leaf tips.
- Keep cool at all times.
- Strip leaves from the bottom half of each stem and wash thoroughly.
- Recut at least 2 cm off each stem and place in water immediately.
- Do not bash or split stem ends.
- Always use a preservative as this will help buds open and keep open flowers looking fresh.
- Replace vase water with fresh preservative every 2 to 3 days.
- Adding 3 or 4 drops of detergent per half-filled bucket (5 litres) will help buds open.
Interesting Facts about this Flower
On September 1, 1988 the Governor General of Australia, Sir Ninian Stephen, officially proclaimed Acacia pycnantha (Golden Wattle) as Australia’s national floral emblem.
Wearing sprigs of wattle has become a tradition in Australia on official occasions, such as Australia Day, and at the Anzac Cove ceremony on Anzac Day. This custom grew from the celebration of Wattle Day, which peaked during World War 1. The day was used to raise funds for the war effort and many trees were denuded in order to meet supply. Boxes of wattle were sent to soldiers in hospitals overseas and it became a custom to enclose a sprig of wattle with each letter to remind our soldiers of home. In 1937 Wattle Day was changed to September 1, where it remains today.
For more information, try the Australian National Botanic Gardens website
Botanical Name: Acacia acinacea, A.dealbata, A.retinodes, A. baileyana, A. buxifolia, A. macrodenia (zigzag), A.leprosa (red form)
Common Names: Wattle, Mimosa in Europe
Stem Length: 30 to 70 cm
Country of Origin: Australia
Available Colours: Cream, Green, Purple, Red, White, Yellow