Acacia

Acacia

The acacia plant can be found all over the world and depending on where you live it can be called different names. In Australia the plant is referred to as a wattle and in Africa and America it is simply called the acacia tree or shrub. It has thorns, so it can also be called a whistling thorn plant. There are over 1300 different species of the acacia plant and it is mentioned in the bible. It was thought that the arc of the covenant was made out of the wood of this plant.

The acacia tree has an unusual shape. The branches and stems grow in an upward position and the foliage and flowers only appear on the tips of these branches making it a perfect choice for a shade tree. But this plant can be trained and kept as a smaller shrub. The leaves are a collection of tiny thinner leaves that combine into one and they resemble a feather. They are light green in color and they give the plant a tropical look. The flowers this plant produces are not similar to your everyday flower. They are made up of tiny blooms that cluster into one flower and the flower resembles a yellow fuzzy ball. When the bloom is a bud it can be a white to light yellow color but as the bloom matures it can turn out to be a golden yellow color. Along with a being a unique and colorful plant, it is said that the fragrance of the blooms are pleasantly scented. In some parts of the world, the flowers are used in the production of perfumes.

This plant is a semi evergreen and it is easy to grow and maintain. But you may not be able to place your tree outdoors because it needs a warm climate to survive in. Many types of plants cannot survive below freezing temperatures but this plant will not survive in any areas where the temperature goes below 64 degrees. This means that it cannot be grown in many areas and will not live through the winter months. It can however be kept indoors during the winter months and returned to the garden area in the summer.

Since the acacia plant likes a warm climate, it also likes to be in direct sunlight. Whether the plant will be placed in the garden or in a pot indoors, it must have a complete 6 hours of direct sunlight a day to be healthy. This helps the plant produce more blooms and keeps the foliage a bright green color. It also helps the tree to fertilize it at least twice a year. Use a low nitrogen fertilizer, to give the plant more nutrients and this can also help to produce more beautiful blooms.

You should never water your acacia plant too often. It grows naturally in dry, hot places and it can develop root rot easily. If you are keeping your plant outdoors, plant it in a slight hill. This way the water will naturally drain away from the roots. The roots on this plant have a tendency to spread out and grow rapidly. So before you place the plant in the ground, make sure you have dug a deep enough hole to accommodate the roots. Remove all the rocks and small pebbles that can cut or damage the roots.

Certain species of the acacia plant can be poisonous to wildlife. If you have small children or animals that are going to be around these plants, make sure that you know what type of plant you are using. When you purchase your acacia plant, you can ask if it is harmful in any way.

About a 1000 species of Acacias are found in Australia. Commonly known as the Wattle, Australia's National Flower is Acacia pycnantha, the Golden Wattle. Wattle Day is celebrated on the 1st of September each year. Acacias flower throughout the year, particularly in spring and summer.

Acacia Flowers are typically small, yellow and fragrant with many stamens, giving the flower a fuzzy appearance. The Acacia flower heads are actually lots of little flowers bundled together. Acacia Flowers can vary in color from cream, pale yellow through to gold. One species, Acacia purpureapetala, has purple flowers whilst a form of Acacia leprosa has red flowers. Individual Acacia Flowers are arranged in inflorescences that may be either globular heads or cylindrical spikes. Each Acacia inflorescence may comprise from as few as 3 individual flowers (e.g. Acacia lunata) to as many as 130 or more (e.g. Acacia anceps).

Facts About Acacias

    * The foliage color of Acacia ranges from light or dark green to blue or silver-grey.
    * Acacias are characterised by their small, finely divided leaflets, which give the leafstalk a feathery or fernlike (i.e., pinnate) appearance.
    * A large group of Acacias develop modified flat leaf-like structures called phyllodes (which are flattened stems) soon after germination.
    * Acacia flowers do not produce any nectar. However, the leaf and phyllode glands secrete a nectar or sugary substance which attracts ants, bees, butterflies and other insects.
    * The color of the Acacia flowers in each species is fairly consistent and can aid in identifying different species.
    * Acacias produce pods or legumes(straight to highly coiled or twisted, smooth or covered in fine hairs) which contain seeds, these too can be helpful in identification of the species.
    * Acacia tree can be raised either from seed, from cuttings, or by grafting.
    * Acacia acinacea (Gold Dust Wattle), Acacia adunca(Wallangarra Wattle), Acacia alata, Acacia aneura (Mulga), Acacia baileyana(Cootamundra Wattle), Acacia bancroftii, Acacia beckleri(Barrier Range Wattle), Acacia binervata(Two-veined Hickory), Acacia melanoxylon, Acacia longifolia, Acacia senegal, are some of the species of Acacia.
    * Acacias are mostly insect pollinated.
    * All parts of the Acacia plant - flowers, leaves and phyllodes, legumes and seeds, stems, trunk and roots are all utilized by hordes of animals.
    * The Acacia wood is renowned for its excellent fuel properties and can also produce good charcoal.
    * Acacia seeds are often used for food and a variety of other products. The seeds of Acacia niopo, for instance, are roasted and used as snuff in South America.

Growing Acacias

Acacias can be propagated by two means - from seeds and from cuttings.

    * To plant out in the garden select a well-drained spot.
    * Clear away any weeds or grass.
    * Dig a hole about twice the depth of the pot.
    * Fill the hole twice with water allowing the water to drain away each time.
    * To release the plant from the pot, hold a hand over the top and around the plant, knock the top of the pot on a firm surface and ease the plant out, Tease out the roots, straighten or trim any of those that are curled.
    * Place the plant in the prepared hole planting to the previous soil level, hold the plant upright while the hole is filled with soil.
    * Firm around the plant and water in.
    * Water the plant about once a week until the new plant is established, especially if conditions are dry.

Acacias Plant Care

    * Acacias have no special nutrient needs and will grow well in most desert soils.
    * The garden area could be mulched with pine bark or other available material to help prevent drying out.
    * But the mulch needs to be kept away from the plant stem to avoid the possible development of stem rot.
    * Pruning is advisable each year to maintain a bushy healthy shrub.
    * This is best undertaken after flowering.
    * Acacia plants should not be left in pots too long before planting in the garden as they quickly develop long root systems.


Kingdom  Plantae
 
Division  Magnoliophyta
 
Class  Magnoliopsida
 
Order  Fabales
 
Family Fabaceae
  
Subfamily Mimosoideae
    
Genus Acacia
   


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