Acacia (a-KAY-sha) is a genus of trees and shrubs belonging to the same family as the pea. More than half of all the acacia species grow in Australia, but they can also be found in warm temperate climates like Africa, Central America and Mexico.
Acacia produces clusters of small, yellow, fluffy flowers. Numerous stamens give the flowers a pompom look. The flowers are also wonderfully fragrant.
In additional to the brightly coloured flowers, the plant produces a dry seedpod as its fruit. Each pod is about 3 inches long and contains 5-6 brownish black seeds, that are edible.
Along with the flowers, acacia can also be identified by its distinct, fern-like leaves, which is made up of small, finely divided green leaflets. Most trees will live to be 15-30 years. They grow quickly and can reach a height of 40 feet tall.
Acacia are attractive ornamental plants. Some species are quite thorny and would be ideal for homeowners wanting some home security. They can be planted under windows to prevent break-ins.
Acacia make beautiful cut flowering branches and will last 7-10 days in a vase. They will add a burst of colour and texture to any floral arrangement. These flowers are sensitive to ethylene; keep away from ripe fruit, dying flowers and heat sources. They also dry well.
Fun Facts about Acacia:
- other common names for acacia include: mimosa, wattle (the term used in Australia)
- the Golden Wattle or acacia pycnantha is Australia’s national flower
- the flower does not produce any nectar; however the leaves secrete a sticky substance to attract insect pollinators
- acacia wood is dense, durable and strong; it is used to build ships and furniture
- some species have edible seeds that have a slight garlic taste, which can be eaten cooked or raw
- the sap yields gum arabic, a substance is used as a thickening agent in foods, paints, cosmetics and hair products
- the flowers can be used to flavour honey, liqueur, soft drinks (like Fresca, Barq’s Root Beer), candies and gums
- the fragrant flowers are used in perfumes and incense sticks
- the shoots of the acacia pennata is used to make soups, curries, and stir fries in Burma, Laos and Thailand
- the bark contain tannins, which can be used to dye leather
- Another fluffy yellow flower: Billy Balls (funflowerfacts.com)