Wednesday, September 26, 2012

National Wattle Day

The abundance of wattle in full bloom, magnificently displaying the green and gold colours of Australia, has prompted me to write a little about National Wattle Day which is celebrated annually on the first day of September. Acacia pycnantha, commonly known as Golden Wattle, is the national floral emblem of Australia.  
Wattle species growing on slopes of Mt Eliza, Perth, Western Australia.
There are more than 760 different types of wattle across Australia, but Acacia pycnantha is an evergreen spreading shrub or small tree which grows in the under storey of open forest, woodland and in open scrub in South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. When in flower, the golden wattle displays the national colours of green and gold.
Wattle in Bushland of Kings Park, Perth.
Because Acacia pycnantha is not a native of Western Australia, I have photographed a few of our local Wattles which are equally as impressive with their golden blooms.
Sandpaper Wattle (Acacia denticulosa)

Flat-leaved Wattle (Acacia glaucoptera)
Prickly Moses (Acacia pulchella)
As one species of a large genus of flora growing across Australia, the golden wattle is a symbol of unity. Wattle is ideally suited to withstand Australia’s droughts, winds and bushfires. The resilience of wattle represents the spirit of the Australian people.

The resilience of Wattle is demonstrated in this regrowth after Kings Park Bushfires.
Uses of the Golden Wattle: The Indigenous people of Australia soaked the gum of the golden wattle in water and honey to produce a sweet, toffee-like substance.  The tannin from the bark was known for its antiseptic properties. Colonial settlers cultivated the golden wattle using the bark in the tanning industry, the gum for glues and the blossom for its honey. In recent times, the golden wattle has been used as a symbol of remembrance and reflection. On national days of mourning, for example, Australians are invited to wear a sprig of wattle.
Acacia anthochaera
Wattle species
Acacia pycnantha enjoyed popular acceptance as Australia’s national flower for much of this century but it was not proclaimed as the national floral emblem until 1988, the year of Australia’s bicentenary. Four years later in 1992, the first day of September was formally declared National Wattle Day.
A tall species of Wattle growing between the Gum Trees.


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