Today is Wattle Day, the first of September. Wattles have long had special meanings for Australians. I remember bringing wattle sprigs to school on this day, to celebrate the coming spring. In 1988 the Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha) was officially gazetted as Australia’s national floral emblem, and in 1992, the first day of September was officially declared ‘National Wattle Day’, a day first celebrated way back in 1910.
Golden Wattle, Australia’s floral emblem, is in full bloom here at Pilyara, lending the bush a sun-kissed appearance on even the darkest day. Although winter still stands in firm command of the southern Victorian ranges, wattle blossom promises warmer days to come. The Golden Wattle grows as a shrub or small tree, and has foliage that is long, arched and bright green. It flowers from July to September, with fragrant golden orbs of blossom. Its gum is eaten by sugar gliders during winter. Its leaves are food for caterpillars of the Common Imperial Blue Butterfly, and its flowers attract native bees.
There are more than 900 species of Acacia in Australia, making it our largest floral genus. I know of nine other wattles indigenous to this area, besides the Golden: the Silver Wattle (Acacia dealbata), the Black Wattle (Acacia mearnsii), the Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon), the Myrtle Wattle (Acacia myrtifolia), the Spike Wattle (Acacia oxycedrus), the Hedge Wattle (Acacia paradoxa), the Hop Wattle (Acacia stricta), the Sweet Wattle (Acacia suaveolens) and Prickly Moses (Acacia verticillata), whose sharp foliage forms star-shaped rings around its stems, with spikes that can rip through clothing.
The common names of many of Australian Acacia’s are especially evocative: Brigalow, Coojong, Cootamundra, Dagger Wattle, Dead-finish Wattle, Kurara, Gundabluey, Myall, Mulga, Old Man Wodjil, Stinking Gidgee, Yarran and Wait-a-While. I love these names! And I love knowing that spring is just around the corner. I wish you all a happy Wattle Day for September 1st and will raise a glass of bubbly! Does anybody else celebrate Wattle Day?