In 2001 the Hyden Progress Association adopted Acacia lanei (‘Lane’s Wattle’) as its town floral emblem. Hyden is a small Western Australia wheatbelt township located about 250 km due east-southeast of Perth and is best known for its iconic tourist attraction, Wave Rock.
Acacia lanei has been planted at various location around Hyden, and in 2003 an avenue of the species was established on the western approaches to the town as an entry statement. Lane’s Wattle is an attractive shrub, especially when in flower (which occurs mainly in July and August).
The following information concerning A. lanei was kindly provided by Mr Richard (Dick) J. Lane, after whom the species is named:
“My first encounter with this Wattle bush was in the year of 1949. The previous year I was allocated my farm block Roc Location 1514, about ten miles [16 km] south of Hyden. This was an abandoned farm owing to the war and the depression. Regrowth went wild on land that had been cleared. The most predominant bush in this regrowth was a Wattle which has since been named Acacia lanei. Many of these bushes were more than fifteen feet [about 4.5 m] across and about eight feet high [about 2.5 m]; it had taken them only eight years to attain this size. The plants had a very dense growth form, and to clear them I had to get inside the bushes with an axe and cut the branches off at the base. Over the years these Wattle bushes persisted by coming up from seed. The sheep do not eat them out without fencing. Even the rabbits burrow under them but don’t damage the wattle. The best of their life is under forty years, then need burning and new seedlings will come up.
“Their main feature is a wind protection for sheep against severe weather and a water absorber in wet areas.
“The main flowering period is July and August when the plants produce bright yellow balls. Acacia lanei is so popular that the people of Hyden have declared it their floral emblem.”
Characteristics of Lane’s Wattle
Acacia lanei grows to a dense, rounded or obconic, multi-stemmed shrub 1.5–2.5 m tall and up to about twice as wide as tall. The phyllodes are narrowly oblong-elliptic, (3–)4–6(–8) cm long, (2–)3–5(–6) mm wide, indistinctly nerved and sticky resinous in summer (the resin subsequently dries hard and non-sticky). The bright yellow flower heads occur in great profusion and are on short peduncles 3–5 mm long.
In its natural habitat Lane’s Wattle is an uncommon species that occurs in a few populations within a restricted area to the south and east of Hyden. It grows on a range of soil types, including clay, clay-loam, gravelly loam and sandy loam, and is most commonly found along creeks and drainage lines. Acacia lanei is currently included on the Department of Conservation and Land Management’s Declared Rare and Priority Flora List as a Priority One (Poorly Known) Taxon*.
This species may be used to form an excellent windbreak on account of its vigorous growth rate, dense, spreading growth form and because it is not eaten by sheep. In the 1980’s (prior to it having been formally described) A. lanei was cultivated in places (e.g. near Esperance, Western Australia) for this purpose; it has also been planted in some locations as an ornamental.
*Priority one taxa are those known from one or a few (generally less than 5) populations which are under threat, either due to small population size, or being on lands under immediate threat, e.g. road verges, urban areas, farmland, active mineral leases, etc., or the plants are under threat, e.g. from disease, grazing by feral animals, etc. May include taxa with threatened populations on protected lands. Such taxa are under consideration for declaration as ‘rare flora’, but are in urgent need of further survey.
A detailed description of the species is given in its original place of publication, namely, Nuytsia 7(2): 192, 194, figs G–I (1990).
A short description and other useful information (including a distribution map) is available via the Western Australian Herbarium’s FloraBase.
A distribution map, generated in real-time and based on specimen point-source data held by major Australian herbaria, are also available through Australia’s Virtual Herbarium. These map can be requested by accessing an appropriate AVH node via the Council of Heads of Australian Herbaria website.