What is the National Flower of Australia?
The golden wattle has thrived on the Australian continent for 35 million years, resilient to drought, wind and bushfire … in other words, the perfect symbol of the knockabout Aussie spirit.
Australian's National Flower
Australia's national floral emblem is the golden wattle (Acacia pycnantha Benth.). When in flower, the golden wattle displays the national colors, green and gold. 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.
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.
The golden wattle has been used in the design of Australian stamps and many awards in the Australian honors system. A single wattle flower is the emblem of the Order of Australia.
|Golden Wattle, the national flower of Australia. Photo: The Garden Clinic|
The tiny Golden Wattle flowers have five very small petals, almost hidden by the long stamens, and are arranged in dense rounded or elongated clusters. The Golden Wattle flowers are yellow in most species, whitish in some, and are widely cultivated as ornamentals.
Australia's Acacias vary in size but have a distinctive yellow colouring. Most of the species flower during the end of winter or the beginning of spring. The most common Acacia, the Golden Wattle (Arcacias pycnantha) is found in the South Eastern parts of Australia, and the hotter and drier climates.
Australia’s First Peoples have inhabited the continent for more than 65,000 years, and they utilized acacias for a number of purposes before British colonization. The wood, pollen and sap from wattle trees was transformed into food, medicine, weapons, tools, musical instruments, glues, dyes, perfumes and ceremonial decoration. Blooming in spring, the golden flowers also signified seasonal events such as whales arriving on the coast or eels appearing in rivers.
The Golden Wattle tree is a shrub of about 4-8 meters. The shrubs and trees genus, Acacia comes from the Pea Family (Fabaceae) and is originally Gondwanian. About 1300 species of Acacia abound worldwide, with about 950 of them being native to Australia. The Golden Wattle features prominently on the Australian coat of arms. Australia celebrates Wattle Day on September 1.
National Wattle Day
The first day of September is National Wattle Day. It builds on a long unofficial tradition of wearing the wattle blossom on 1 September. The day was introduced in 1913 by an association called the Wattle Day League and formally recognized on 23 June 1992.
Australians can celebrate their floral heritage each Wattle Day by planting wattles.
Indigenous peoples 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.
The golden wattle was unofficially accepted as the national floral emblem to mark Federation in 1901.
In 1912 the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Andrew Fisher MP, suggested that the wattle be included as a decoration surrounding the Commonwealth Coat of Arms.
Facts About Golden Wattle
|The existing flag carries the Union Jack in its corner, and there’s a lot of support to replace it with something unambiguously Australian such as the stylish Golden Wattle Flag. Photo: Flags for Australia|
Since the Golden Wattle is native to Australia's Capital territory, the flower was the obvious choice for the floral emblem.
Australian Acacia pycnantha species are called Golden Wattles, while the African and American species tend are generally called Acacias.
Golden Wattle are sometimes used as food by the larvae of hepialid moths of the genus Aenetus.
Even several years old Golden Wattle seeds germinate, provided the outer covering of the seed is sufficiently abraded for water to penetrate.
The largest Golden wattle is the Blackwood Wattle (Arcacias melanoxylon), which is found within the eastern and southern parts of Australia.
In Australia, Acacias are called Wattles as they were believed to have been used by the early settlers to make the wattle and daub houses.
The most common Golden Wattle is Acacia pycnantha, which is found in the South Eastern parts of Australia, as well as the hotter and drier climates.
Inland, the most common Golden wattle is the Mulga Wattle (Acacias aneura), which has a harder wood than many of the other species. It was also used to make tools and weaponry by the Aboriginal people.
The strong scent of Golden Wattles creates an illusion of an allergic reaction in some people sensitive to perfumes.
The golden wattle is entwined with Australia’s military history
Australia was only federated as a nation in 1901, so its World War I efforts were integral to the formation of a national identity, and the golden wattle played a significant symbolic role. Wattle flowers were sold to raise money during the war, it became tradition to send pressed wattles in letters to wounded soldiers in Europe, and fallen diggers were often buried with a sprig of wattle.
Golden Wattle inspired Australia’s national colors
|Photo: The Culture Trip|
The flag might be red, white and blue but Australian sporting teams have been wearing green and gold on their uniforms since the late 1800s. The hues were officially recognized as Australia’s national colors in 1984 and these days you won’t spot a national sporting team decked out in anything other than green and gold. It even earns a mention in the cricket team’s victory song: “Under the Southern Cross I stand, a sprig of wattle in my hand, a native of my native land, Australia you f***ing beauty!”
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