Firstly, to introduce wattles - just look around your garden, street, park or bushland! Wherever you are in Australia you will see an Acacia plant - a wattle.
Aboriginal Australians have always made use of wattles and historically wattles were quite possibly the first Australian plants noticed by the early visiting Europeans. A species of wattle was perhaps the first ever plant collected from Australia (by Vlamingh from Perth) and wattles featured among the first ever illustrated, those collected by William Dampier.
Wattles are members of the Pea family which includes plants like the luscious lentils. Can you think of any other edible Pea family plants?
Acacias can be found throughout the warmer parts of the world in Africa, Asia, and the Americas but it is in Australia where Acacias are by far the largest group of flowering plants. And it is only in Australia that Acacias are known as wattles. Australia has almost 1000 different Acacias out of the 1350 worldwide. In Australia wattles grow almost anywhere but are most common in the drier areas - the arid and semi-arid regions. Do you live in dry region?
As you explore further into 'Wattles are Wonderful' you will discover how varied wattles can be in how they look, where they grow, how fast they grow and why, and the ways in which people use them.
Wattles may be big in number, beautiful to look at, and useful to people, but
it is in the steps we take to protect and conserve this very valuable resource for the future that matters most.
So look out for Wattle Day in your area - September 1st - a day to celebrate Australia flora and to promote the colours of the green and gold by planting a wattle.
Wattle you know wattle you do?
- Where are wattles growing near your home - go find!
- Have you heard of the buccaneer William Dampier?
- Who was he and when did he visit Western Australia?
- Wattles belong to the Pea Family. Can you name some other members of this family?
- Are wattles only found in Australia? Where else can they be found?
- When is Wattle Day?