Botanical Buzz | Ron Watson

The thing is: we have a dilemma. When I say wattle, you do know I’m on about those distinctly Australian plants, don’t you? 

Golden Foliage: Flinder’s Range Wattle (Acacia iteaphylla). A grey-green leafy plant on a part-shade rocky ledge at Elizabeth Park. This was some years ago. It was cute and has been growing steadily ever since.

Golden Foliage: Flinder’s Range Wattle (Acacia iteaphylla). A grey-green leafy plant on a part-shade rocky ledge at Elizabeth Park. This was some years ago. It was cute and has been growing steadily ever since.

I’m not talking about the other wattles: a bound together, interwoven bunch of twigs; very British.

Or the wattle which is the fleshy, wrinkled fold of skin hanging from the throat of domestic male fowls or certain reptiles. Bet you didn’t know about this skin wattle? One day it popped out of nowhere. A grey-green leafy plant on a part-shade rocky ledge at Elizabeth Park. A nice contrast to the Azaleas planted a little way along which keep dying on me. The spot would be classified as dry-shade. That is, until we installed a permanent pop-up irrigation line.

When the jets of water blanketed everything our diminutive freebee bunch of leaves (phyllodes) started to thrive.  I didn’t have the heart to pull it out. The Japanese Maple beside it was subject to relentless attack by borers and the replacement Azaleas continued to fail. Meanwhile we bought a tray of tube stock Flinder’s Range Wattle (Acacia iteaphylla). The very same as our freebee bunch of leaves.

They are quick growers with colour in autumn and winter of pretty yellow button flowers. A lot of people don’t like wattles. Used and abused. Could be compared to the Light Horse mounts left in the Middle East after the Great War. Those loyal horses.

Whatever did we do with them? Our bought Flinder’s Range Wattles were planted in the Oasis Valley where they are growing fabulously, now nearly two metres high and in flower for this autumn.

Here they join our local wattles. They protect the rainforest species and give a finished look to the hills. The self-sown one on the rocky ledge in Shoyoen (Japanese sector) has a stunning weeping habit and reaches six metres in full flower. Did I say we had a dilemma or quandary? Frankly we are in a fix. You see, our custom is to regard wattles as transient and even disposable (like our Light Horse mounts).

Despite the fact that plant selections in the nature of Japanese Maple can look, well, insipid (dull), it is the wattle which gets the chop. Excuse me!

Did you notice any pretty flowers on the maple this year? Maybe the critics have been wagging their heads in disapproval so much, they have developed a double chin.

This is simply what they deserve. Remember what that wrinkled fold of extra skin near the chin is called? Exactly! A ‘wattle.’ A little less negativity may be beneficial for health and appearance. Please give the wattle plant more approval. It deserves it, don’t you agree? Photograph of Flinder’s Range Wattle (Acacia iteaphylla).