October 11 - 17, 2020: Issue 469
Spring is here and wattles are out in bloom: a love letter to our iconic flowers
by Gregory Moore, Doctor of Botany, University of Melbourne
Spring has arrived, and all over the country the hills and riversides are burnished with the green and gold of Australian wattles, all belonging to the genus Acacia.
It’s a spectacular sight, but not a surprising one as there are about 1,000 Australian species in the Acacia genus ranging from very small shrubs to tall, longed-lived trees. They occur in ecosystems from the arid inland to the wet forests of the east coast.
Wattles have been widely used by Indigenous people for millenia, and celebrated by “Wattle Day” on September 1 for more than a century.
But their lineage may be much older. Australian wattles have relatives in Africa, South America, India and parts of Southeast Asia. This distribution suggests the wattles may have originated in Gondwana before the super-continent fragmented about 180 million years ago.
So let’s take a closer look at what makes these iconic flowers so special.
Don’t blame wattles for your hay fever
Not everyone welcomes the wattles’ golden blooms — many blame wattle pollen for their hay fever or asthma.
However, many species of wattle have aggregated pollen, which means it’s very heavy and tends to fall straight to ground. You have to be virtually under the plant for it to affect you.
They can cause trouble, but it’s more likely your allergy is due to some other inconspicuous plant, such as grass, that you haven’t noticed compared to the bright yellow of the wattles. It’s worth having an allergy test.
While a majority of wattles flower in spring and summer, a significant group — such as the sunshine wattle (A. botrycephala), Gawler Range wattle (A. iteaphylla) and flax wattle (A linifolia) — flowers in autumn and winter. This can give the impression in some places that they’re flowering year-round.
What’s more, many species are hardy, and they can help in the process of taking nitrogen from the air and adding to the soil. That means they can be very handy in ancient, nutrient-poor Australian soils.
Many of the smaller shrub wattles may live for only a decade or so, but some, such as mulga (Acacia aneura) can live for centuries and are crucial to the viability and stability of arid inland ecosystems. They can have surprisingly large and deep root systems for such small shrubs or trees. This is to obtain water, but also binds the soil.
However, mulga-munching horses, cattle and other feral grazers threaten the persistence of mulga-dominated communities. If mulga and other inland Acacia species are lost, the soils can become loose and mobile, which results in stable productive land becoming desert.
By any other name
In the early 2000s, there was fierce debate among plant taxonomists about how closely the African and Australian species were related.
The name “Acacia” rightly belonged to the African group, but because there were so many Australian species that would need to be renamed, Australia was allowed to keep the name “Acacia” in 2011 — much to the chagrin of foreign taxonomists.
This resulted in the genus being divided. Australian wattles stayed as Acacia, but African wattles are now in the genera Vachellia or Senegalia, and those from the middle Americas (around Mexico) are Acaciella and Mariosousa.
The different names reflect long, separate histories and different ecological characteristics. (The name changes rankle still with taxonomists!)
There are also weedy wattles in Australia and elsewhere. Many of us know from hard experience that the splendid ornamental tree, Cootamundra wattle (Acacia baileyiana), can become a weed if it grows outside its very restricted natural range in New South Wales. And Australia’s black wattle (A. mearnsii) is a significant weed in other parts of the world.
It can come as a bit of a blow to know Australia’s floral emblem, golden wattle (A. pycnantha), can be weedy both at home and when it travels abroad (perhaps like some Australians).
Interestingly, most of the Australian wattles lack thorns, unlike their relatives in Africa. In Africa, thorns protect the plants from large mammalian grazers such as giraffes.
Ants love wattles, too
If you don’t like ants, it might be worth checking which species of wattle you have in your backyard, or intend to buy.
Many wattles have a very special relationship with some insects. In Central America, ants penetrate the thorns of Bulls Horn wattle trees and establish their colonies. They then defend the tree against other insects, and if branches of another tree touch the host tree, the ants will cause such damage that the other tree will die back.
In Australia, the relationship between ants and wattles is based on food. The hard wattle seeds have a tasty and oil-rich outgrowth called an “aril”, which is irresistible to some ant species.
The ants harvest the seeds and take them back to their nest, where they’re safe from other hungry grazers until it is damaged by fire or flood and the seeds germinate.
Some wattles, the mulga among them, have little glands at the base of their phyllodes (the modified leaf stalks). These glands secrete a form of sugary syrup that attracts feeding ants. These ants may also protect host trees or perhaps leave the flowers alone to allow a greater seed set to grow.
It’s clear wattles have a lot going for them. They are diverse in number, habit, size, longevity and flowering season — there’s a wattle for every occasion. For all of these great traits, it’s still that green and gold that endears them to Australians.
This article was published first in The Conversation - republished under a Creative Commons Licence and with a donation made to The Conversation to further their excellent works.
If you would like to add more Australian plants to your garden to make this place healthier, restore degraded areas, along with providing food for local wildlife and insects, please visit:
- Native Plant Garden for A Fairy Arbour
- Tips for Growing a Native Garden
- Pittwater's Noxious Weeds: A Great Time To Get Outdoors and Pull Them Out and Replace With Native Plants
- Reducing Ticks in Your Garden: Garden care, Plants that Repel, What to Wear Outdoors
- Attracting Insectivore Birds to Your Garden: DIY Natural Tick Control
Some Gardening Specials From Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 For Spring
Rosemore Curve Back Timber Bench: $269.00
3 seater bench. Light timber frame. Curved back for comfort.
Jack & Jill 2 Seater Oiled Timber Bench: $149.00
Natural teak look FSC Certified Acacia timber. 30mm thick seat cushion in 180g polyester. W1455 x D645 x H920mm. Weight capacity: 120kg per chair. Assembly required.
Searle's Flourish Soluble Plant Food Flowers and Foliage 500g: $7.50
Premium ingredients for rapid uptake. Dual Action All year formula Makes up to 900L
Bosch 380mm Hand Mower: $139.00
380mm. Cylinder cut system. 5 Curved blades. Includes grass catcher.
Debco Seed & Cutting Premium Germinating Mix 25L: $10.00
6 month controlled release fertiliser. Added Wetting Agent. Trace Elements. Coir Peat & Horticultural Sand.
Yates 15L Seed Raising Mix: $11.99
Ideal mix for germination of vegetable, herb and flower seeds and for propagation.
Tumbleweed Worm Farm Kit: $55.00
Worm Feast Bundle Deal; 1 x Worm Feast Worm Farm, 1 x Worm Farm Bedding Block, 1 x Worm Farm & Compost Conditioner. H290 x W150 x D470mm
Tumbleweed Compost Organi-Bin Antique White 21x24x27cm: $29.00
Carry handle. Insect proof. Breathable lid with a carbon filter.
Yard Force 40V Lawn Mower 16 Inch Kit LM G40A: $399.00
The new way to mow. The Yard Force G40A 40V electric lawn mower delivers the power you need for a clean lawn in a quiet, lightweight package. Weighing only 18 kilograms but sporting a 3200 RPM brushless motor and an impressive 16-inch cutting width, the G40A is ideal for small and medium lawns up to 500 m2. It’s all electric design means no priming or pulling – just one button and you’re ready to mow. The powerful 40V lithium ion-battery pack gives you all the time you need to get your lawn looking pristine, while the ultra-efficient charger gives you a full recharge in just two hours.
A 45L grass bag has all the room you need for even the biggest jobs, while central cutting-height control gives you easy choice of seven different heights, making it simple to give different areas the individual treatment they deserve. Order your new Yard Force lawn mower from Mitre 10 today.
Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 Update: Shop Online Options
Intending to keep our customers and staff safe, we present some additional ways for both our retail and trade customers to do business with us.
Trade and Retail Pick Up
Express Pick up Mona Vale
- Call Johnson Bros Mitre 10 Mona Vale, and we will pick & pack your order and have it ready for you to pick up in 2 hours. (Stocked Lines Only)
- Drive into our undercover Trade Drive-Thru area at 73 Bassett St Mona Vale, and your order will be ready for pick-up.
- Our team members will help you with your load and finalise payment/paperwork
Express Pick up Avalon
- Call Johnson Bros Mitre 10 Avalon, and we will pick & pack your order and have it ready for you to pick up in 2 hours. (Stocked Lines Only)
- Drive into our back lane off Bellevue Avenue, and your order will be ready for pick-up.
- Our team members will help you with your load and finalise payment/paperwork
Online Retail Stores Go Live
We’ve launched two eCommerce sites offering 2hr pick up in-store and flat rate delivery options on the northern beaches*.
Jbhmv.com.au (Mona Vale)
With the ability to leave the product on your doorstep, this provides an option of an entirely contactless transaction.
*Flat rate delivery is not available to trade sales, building supplies and trade quantities
** The stock availability is updated nightly, which may mean the stock is unavailable when the order is placed
Trade Delivery to Site
Maybe not new, but certainly worth a mention again!
We can get almost anything delivered quickly onto site!
As always ring the trade desk direct on 9999 0333 and let them know what you need!
Like everyone, we have found ourselves in a new and uncertain environment, but we’re setting up (and digging in) for the long haul!
We want to acknowledge that the decision to retain over 120 staff and meet any future challenges head-on, could not have happened without the continued support you provide us as customers.
Thank you and stay safe,
The Johnson Family
Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 Trade Centre at Mona Vale - everything you need under one roof.
Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 New Store
73 Bassett Street
Mona Vale - Online Store: Jbhmv.Com.Au
Products advice is available from the trained friendly staff at Narrabeen, Mona Vale and Avalon Johnson Brothers Mitre 10.
Previous DIY Pages:
Decking Timbers Caring For Your Deck Decking Finishes Privacy Screens I Privacy Screens II Privacy Screening Hardwoods Autumn Paths and Lawns Insulation Batts Plasterboard Ventilation - Edmond's Ecofan Blackboards for Children and Home Spring Lawn Care Shade Sails & Watering Basic DIY Tools DIY Tools - Power Drills Recycle Your Trampoline into An Air Bed How to Build Your Own Backyard Cricket Pitch Christmas Lights Displays around House and Garden Summer Mildew - Refresh, Renew How to Fix Things That Drip and Bump in the Night Time To Plant Winter Vegetables in a Raised Garden Beds Layout Organsing Your Tool Shed Make Your Own Weathervane Installing A Garden Watering System Decking Oils How To Make Garden Compost How To Winter proof Your Lawn How to create Shabby Chic effect on Timber Furniture How to Build Your Own Raised Garden Bed Growing Your Own Winter Vegies Winter Heating Guide Prepare Your Yard For Winter Eradicating Noxious Weeds From Your Yard How to Fix Furniture Finishes Part I How to Repair Scratches, Dings, and Dents of Furniture Surfaces - Part II Winter Draughts Fix Classic Wooden Tool Carrier Spring Garden Checklist Part I Install Your Own Skylight Retaining Walls for Saving Soil and New Spring Garden Beds Summer Salad Garden Native Plant Garden for A Fairy Arbour Renewing Short Flight of Exterior Stairs Deck Maintenance DIY Summer Tasks You Can Do In Time to Get to the Beach Garden Ponds for Attracting Birdlife, Dragonflies and for the Soothing Sounds of Water Salt Air: Maintenance and Protection Creating an Outdoor Dining Arbour, Gazebo or Patio - Part I Creating an Outdor Dining Arbour, Gazebo or Patio Part II Autumn Garden Tasks Autumn DIY Jobs: Waterproof Your Home Checklist Dealing With Dampness Inside the Home Fixing Your Fence Repairing and Replacing Damaged Decking boards DIY Toy Box and Snow Globes: School Holidays Fun - Winter 2015 DIY Wooden Toy Cars and Perfect Painted Flowerpots: School Holiday Fun - Winter 2015 Shoring Up an Under House Earth Bank – Installing a Basic Retaining Wall DIY One Shelf Sideboard Early Spring 2015 Garden Care Salad Garden For Children Keeping Your Garden and Home Cool in Hot Weather Classic Beach Garden and Camping Chairs 3 Portable Versions Anyone Can Make DIY Outdoor Furniture Mark I: Park Benches for Your Garden Make Your Own Scooter or Skateboard: Summer 2016 Fun How to Install a Solid Core Door and Door Furniture Summer Garden Jobs: Pruning A Hedge How to Make A Swing Chair - With A Frame for Garden Setting Garden Jobs for March to Make A Beautiful and Healthy Spring Keeping Outdoor Nooks Warm During Cooler Months Children’s Step Stool with Storage Stop Winter Rain Lawn Loss and Soil Erosion on Slopes DIY Garden Shed: Part 1 of 4 - Base DIY Garden Shed: Part 2 - Framing Walls DIY Garden Shed: Part 2b - Gable Roof Framing Garden Shed Part 3: Roof Installation DIY Garden Shed: Weather- boards - Door And Window Installation And Paint Finish DIY Coffee Table With Chessboard Inlay Spring Gardening: Feeding Your Soil And Plants - What Works For Each Plant DIY Sandstone Flagging Parking Area - Platform DIY Pre-Summer Checklist For A Safe Home Summer Spruce Up: Interior Paint Tips and Three easy steps to rejuvenate your timber deck The Perfect BBQ Garden Setting DIY Water Wise Garden DIY Side Gates DIY Storm Preparation And Home Protection One To Two Day DIY Weekend Spruce Ups Vegepods For Autumn Planting + Easy To Make Lego Table Or Student Desk That Can Be Dismantled + Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 Online Store Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 Great New Mona Vale Store: Still In Bassett Street - number 73 Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 New Mona Vale Store: The Greenlife Garden Centre Go Outside And Play: Creating Garden Spaces To Connect Children With Nature DIY Plasterboard Repair DIY Dolls House Or Garage Or Boatshed DIY Child's Waggon - or use as a large planter mover DIY Bathroom Refresh: Zing For Spring Tips for Growing a Native Garden FireCrunch, Australian Developed Fire-proof, Sustainable, Durable and Reliable Building Board Now Available at Johnson Bros. at Mona Vale and Narrabeen School Holidays DIY Ideas for Children: Little Vegetables Garden, Swing, Windchimes Bushfire Season Preparation 2017: Home and Outdoor Areas Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 Trade Centre at Mona Vale + Issue No 1 of Mitre 10’s inSITE Magazine for Tradies and Handymen Preparing Al Fresco Areas for Christmas Get-Togethers and Summer Visitors Summer De-bug; 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Australia's Prime Minister Visits Mackellar - Informal Afternoon Tea with Hon. Malcolm Turnbull October 2016
JBH Win Awards August 2018 Trifecta - 2018 Free Trade Day supporters, Mitre 10 Heritage Advert features JBH Mona Vale Store, Hardware Australia’s 2018 NSW Hardware Store of the Year over 2500sqm.
Front Page Issue 294: 2018 Winners Of National Hardware Store Of The Year - Johnson Bros Mitre 10 Mona Vale !!!
National Garden Week's 2019 Focus Is On Children(Oct 13-19): School Holiday Garden Ideas (to get started on) & Congratulations Award Winning Johnson Brothers Mitre10 At Mona Vale - 2019 NSW Store Of the Year, 2019 NSW Trade Centre Of the Year and 2019 Village Garden Centre of the Year
Family Hardware Store Wins Best In Australia: Johnson Bros Mitre 10 Mona Vale Crowned ‘National Trade Store Of The Year’ - Celebrating 65th Year in 2020
Anzac Day In Pittwater 2020: Candles, Crosses and Online Commemorative Services: Johnson Brothers Family Donates 20 Thousand Candles to Community Light Up The Dawn Initiative
Front Page Issue 447: ANZAC DAY 2020