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using Acacia mearnsii for tannin
Acacia mearnsii:
harvesting bark for tannin production, South Africa
© CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products

The bark of A. mearnsii (Black Wattle) is a major source of vegetable tannin, used in the manufacture of leather goods and adhesives. The main producers are Brazil, China, Kenya, India, the Republic of South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe (Wiersum, 1991). Ironically, Australia imports Black Wattle tannin. Australia once supported a substantial tannin bark industry based on Black Wattle and a number of other species, all harvested from natural stands (e.g., see Maiden, 1905; Lithgow, 1997); the decline of this industry is documented in Searle (1991, 1997). Black Wattle tannin is used for the production of waterproof adhesives in reconstituted wood products (Turnbull et al., 1998). Further information on the importance of Black Wattle is given in Brown & Ho (1997). Acacia decurrens (Green Wattle) is also valued overseas for its bark tannin, used in Indonesia as a sizing agent in the manufacture of fibreboard (Prayitno, 1982).


Brown, A.G. & Ho C.K. (1997), Black Wattle and its Utilisation - Abridged English Edition. RIRDC Publication No. 97/72. Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, Canberra.

Lithgow, M.G. (1997), 60 wattles of the Chinchilla and Murilla Shires. Private publication. Chinchilla, Queensland.

Maiden, J.H. (1905), Wattles and Wattle Barks, Being Hints on their Conservation and Cultivation Together with Particulars of their Value. 3rd Edn. William Applegate Gullick, Government Printer, Sydney.

Prayitno, T.A. (1982), Influence of age on tannin content in trees [Pengaruh umur terhadap kadar tanin dalam pohon.], Duta Rimba 8: 43-44.

Searle, S.D. (1991), The rise and demise of the black wattle bark industry in Australia. Technical Paper No. 1. CSIRO, Division of Forestry, Canberra.

Searle, S.D. (1997), Acacia mearnsii De Wild. (Black Wattle) in Australia, in A.G.Brown & C.K.Ho (eds), Black Wattle and its Utilisation - Abridged English Edition. RIRDC Publication No. 97/72. pp. 1-12. Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, Canberra.

Turnbull, J.W., Midgley, S.J. & Cossaltar, C. (1998), Tropical acacias planted in Asia: an overview, in J.W.Turnbull, H.R.Crompton & K.Pinyopusarerk (eds), Recent Developments in Acacia Planting. Proceedings of an international workshop held in Hanoi, Vietnam, 27-30 October, 1997. ACIAR Proceedings No. 82, pp. 29-35. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Canberra.

Wiersum, K.F. (1991), Acacia mearnsii De Wild., in R.H.M.J.Lemmens & N.Wulijarni-Soetjipto (eds) Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 3. Dye and Tannin-producing Plants. pp. 41-45. Wageningen, Pudoc.

Page last updated: Thursday 22 June 2023