When finding out about wattles, there are a few important things to get to know.
First of all, the true leaves of all acacias are feathery. By growing wattle seeds (see: Wattle you know wattle you do below) you will discover how all wattle leaves begin this way. These 'true' wattle leaves are known as pinnate leaves. Most Australian wattles lose these true leaves as they grow, and develop instead the leaf-like organ called a phyllode. It looks and functions very much like an ordinary leaf. These phyllodes usually have one to many veins,called nerves, visible on their surface (often you will need a magnifying glass to see them, except on large phyllodes).
Acacia dealbata (Silver Wattle) has bipinnate leaves, whereas Acacia howittii (Sticky Wattle) has phyllodes with several nerves. Thus in the Silver Wattle, we say true leaves persist, but in the Sticky Wattle these true leaves are lost and the leaf stalk develops as a leaf like structure, the phyllode Most Australian acacias have phyllodes, while acacias from outside Australia have bipinnate leaves. No one really knows why this is so - but it gets the botanists talking!
Here are some words commonly used to describe the various parts of Wattles:
- when a leaf has a single stalk with rows of little leaflets on either side of it (= pinnae); the first seedling leaves of many Wattles are pinnate
- when a single leaf has one or more pairs of pinnae arranged along a stalk; all wattle seedlings have bipinnate leaves
- the stalk of a leaf
- a flattened petiole that many wattles use a leaf-like structure
- long veins that are visible on the phyllode
- circular pimples with holes in their centre that are found on phyllodes or stalks of bipinnate leaves and which secrete a sweet nectar; glands in Wattles are sometimes called extra-floral nectaries
- the individual flowers of a wattles are very small, they are clustered into globular heads or rod-shaped spikes
- some wattle flower heads are ball shaped
- some wattle flower heads are rod-shaped
- a branched stalk or many flower heads or spikes
- the stalk that supports the flower heads or spikes or Wattles, it may be long or short
- the hard coat of a seed, in Wattles the testa is usually black or brown and it can be dull or shiny
- an oily fleshy outgrowth of the funicle that ants and often birds relish
- the often thread-like attachment of the seed in the pod
- dry fruit of legumes; wattles are in the legume family Fabales
- a small appendage at the base of the leaf or phyllode; in many acacias, especially those found outside Australia, the stipule is often a spine
Wattle you know wattle you do?
- Words are wonderful -like luscious lentils are legumes. What others can you eat? Wattle words are wonderful. Construct a wattle crossword, use a search engine like Google for crossword help