Acacias

Course CodeVHT114
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Learn to identify and grow Acacias

  • Expand your plant knowledge, improve your career and business opportunities in horticulture
  • Understand how to use wattles for land rehabilitation and other practical purposes

Wattles can be grown for a range or amenity purposes (eg. land rehabilitation, decorative garden plants, windbreaks etc), timber production, a cut flower, for tanning, as a food (bush tucker plant), etc.

Their flowers are small, grouped in large numbers to create round balls or cylindrical spikes. These balls or spikes normally occur on peduncles (ie: a ball or a cylinder on the end of a stalk). They occur either singly, in pairs or racemes emerging from the axils of the leaves or phyllodes. The tiny flowers each have 4 to 5 sepals, 4 to 5 petals and numerous staemens. The fruit is a leguminous pod, often long. When mature, the pod will open releasing large hard coated seeds from inside.
In most species, there are no leaves. Instead, the plant has leaf like structures (considered to be modified petioles or leaf stalks), called "phyllodes".

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction and Resources.
    • Nature and Scope of Acacias
    • Plant/Acacia Taxonomy (classification and naming)
    • Acacia Ecosystems
    • Significant Acacias from Australia, Africa and the Middle East
  2. Physiology and Botany of Acacias.
    • Acacia relatives; and the Order Fabales
    • Understanding flower structure of Acacias
    • The inflorescence
    • Using Botanical terms to describe Acacias
    • Foliage characteristics
    • Classifying Acacias according to foliage type
    • Classifying Acacias according to flower type
    • Acacia fruit characteristics (seed pods)
  3. Culture
    • Environmental considerations
    • Nutritional considerations
    • Acacia Pests and Diseases
    • Soil conditions for Acacias
    • Typical cultural requirements
    • Australian Acacias (review of size, foliage and flowering)
    • Weed management
    • Soil testing
  4. Propagation
    • Scope of wattle propagation
    • Acacia Seed treaments
    • Sowing Acacia seeds
    • Seed storage
    • Acacia cutting propagation
    • Transplanting seedlings or cuttings
    • Potting up
  5. Acacias And Their Uses
    • Landscape Applications (windbreaks, screens, shrubberies, erosion control, soil enrichment, rock gardens, tubs)
    • Plant selection
    • Buying the right specimin
    • Using Acasias as specimin trees
    • Garden Design with Acacias
    • Creating landscape affects
    • Acacia species for different conditions
  6. Other Uses For Acacias
    • Timber
    • Tanning
    • Cut Flowers
    • Perfumery with Acacias
    • Acacias for human food
    • Acacias for animal fodder
    • Gum Arabic
  7. Pest & Disease of Acacias
    • Nature and scope of Pest and Disease
    • Pest and Disease problems detected on Acacias
    • Environmental problems
  8. Special Project
    • Problem Based Learning style project
    • Plan theestablishment of a collection of Acacias for a specific location.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Aims

  • Describe the way in which Acacias are classified.
  • Determine how to find reliable resource information that relates to Acacias
  • Describe the physiology of Acacias
  • Determine cultural requirements that are common to Acacias
  • Determine propagation methods that are commonly applicable to Acacias.
  • Describe a variety of commercial uses for Acacias.
  • Describe a range of other practical uses for Acacias.
  • Identify and recommend treatment for a variety of health problems occurring with Acacias.
  • Develop an in depth understanding of one aspect of Acacia Growing.

     
Acacia aneura  Acacia pravissima Acacia conferta
 

ACACIAS RENAMED?

The scientific name of Acacia was revised by a group of botanists over a period up to 2011, to split it into two genera. Not everyone accepts and uses these changes though. You need to be aware however, in order to avoid any confusion you might encounter.

Species (163, predominantly from outside Australia) were given the new genus name Vachellia.  Despite being accepted by botanists; it remains to be seen how quickly this new genus might be adopted by tradesmen in the horticulture industry and the general public.  As a student of Acacias, you should be aware of the change, but also appreciate the fact that many people you talk with may be unaware of what you are talking about if you use the name Vachellia.

 
ARE YOU AWARE THAT SOME ACACIAS ARE EDIBLE?

Wattle seeds have been harvested and eaten by aboriginal people for centuries in Australia. And used as fodder, famine and food crops in other countries particularly Africa.
Around 10% of Acacias (i.e. approximately 50 species) are known to produce edible seeds. Of these, three have been more widely eaten than others. Some species are known to be toxic and many are simply not palatable.

Acacia albida (Apple Ring Acacia)
A thorny tree to 25m (sometimes shrub-like); it is widespread throughout tropical and southern Africa and also Cyprus, Israel and Lebanon.
This is a much used tree in Africa and also used as a food crop by people in Rhodesia during times of famine. The seeds have approx. 27% protein and do not deteriorate nutritionally upon drying. The seeds are boiled twice firstly to more easily remove the skins and then again to remove the kernels. The seeds are ground as a flour and also used as a fodder crop for farm animals.

Acacia aneura
(Mulga Wattle)  
Native to the arid outback areas of Australia a shrub like small tree to 15m was an important food source for indigenous people.
Seeds can be ground to edible paste after first separating the seeds from the pods; seeds are roasted in hot ashes then ground into a paste whilst moistened with water.

Acacia kempeana (Witchetty Bush)
The seed of this plant was an important food source for indigenous people (Australia). This is also known as the witchetty bush (the species hosts the grub which was also a food source).
This is a shrub that is rarely over 1.5 metres tall, but occasionally to 3 metres.

  • Flowers are cylindrical, yellow and to 6 cm long.
  • Frost tolerant and very hardy requiring little care once established.
  • Good dry inland semi-arid to arid temperate areas.

Acacia ligulata (Small Cooba, Sandhill Wattle, Dune Wattle)
A widely spread shrub native to Australia, but occurs mostly on sand hills across most of inland Australia (not the far north), it grows to between 1 and 4 metres high with orange or yellowish ball flowers. Seeds can be ground into edible paste.

Acacia longifolia (Sydney Golden Wattle)
A large shrub or small tree (6-8m tall) native to south eastern Australia and extending from the far South East of Qld. down to Victoria and in the South East of South Australia; it has long narrow phyllodes and narrow drooping seed pods.  It produces large, protein rich seeds - these seeds are bitter and can have a “sulphur” taste if eaten raw. Roasting or steaming the seeds makes them more palatable and gives them a nut like flavour. Roasted seeds can be used as a coffee like beverage

Acacia murrayana (Murray’s Wattle, Colony Wattle)
From arid inland, central Australia; shrub of 2metres tall, or tree up to 7 metres with a 5 metre spread with glaucous, greyish foliage.
Seeds are ground to edible paste by Aborigines.  

  • Grubs often attack in roots
  • Frost hardy
  • Short lived

Acacia victoriae (Gundabluie, Bardi bush)
Wide spread shrub that grows 2 – 5m tall and native to Australia; it suits semi-arid to warm temperate climates e.g. arid areas in Western Australia, Northern Australia Victoria  and South Australia. It has been cultivated commercially in the Flinders Ranges (South Australia) to harvest seeds also grown in Pakistan, Israel and Iran.

Harvest and Processing Wattle Seeds

  • Pods need to first be picked, dried (usually in the sun), and have seeds extracted.
  • The seeds then need to be cleaned (you only want clean seed so remove any dirt, pods, twigs etc).
  • The clean seed then should be cooked (either steamed or roasted).
  • Cooked seed may be stored for a period and packets of roasted seeds may be found for sale commercially at times.

The cooked seeds are commonly ground into a paste adding a small quantity of water as it is being ground.  The paste can then be frozen for later use. The paste has traditionally been made into small cakes and baked. Seeds can also be boiled to extract the flavour and create an ‘essence’ that can then be used for flavouring foods (e.g. ice cream) or as a beverage (e.g. wattle seed coffee).

 

 

WHY STUDY AND GROW ACACIAS?

Acacias have more uses than most people realize. The most obvious use is as a garden plant; or perhaps a timber. Acacias are also grown and harvested for a whole range of purposes.
  • Did you realize that Gum Arabic comes from Acacias?
  • Did you know Acacias can improve soil fertility?
  • Did you realize that some African tribes use Acacias as a major food source for livestock?
  • Do you realize, some Acacias are used to supply medicines?
  • Do you realize native peoples in Australia, Africa and other places eat seeds, flowers, gum and other things harvested from Acacias.
Where will this course take you?
  • Be an expert in this field
  • Work in an environmental job
  • Re-vegetation projects
  • Land rehabilitation projects

 

HOW TO ENROL

 

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