Acacia, commonly called wattle, is a large genus of shrubs and trees known for their distinctive feathery foliage and showy flower clusters.
- Habit: Acacia species vary widely in habit, ranging from small shrubs to large trees. They are characterized by their feathery, typically evergreen leaves, which are often a bright, glossy green and in many species, are actually leaf-like flattened stems called phyllodes.
- Hardiness: Acacia species are primarily native to Australia, with some species in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. They are best suited to USDA zones 9-11, depending on the species. Acacias are known for their resilience and can tolerate poor, dry soils and harsh environmental conditions.
- Flowers: Acacias are renowned for their vibrant yellow or cream flower clusters, which usually bloom in winter or early spring, providing color when many other plants are dormant. The flowers are typically arranged in dense, fluffy spherical clusters and have a sweet, honey-like scent.
- Uses: Acacias have a multitude of uses. They are often planted as ornamental trees or shrubs in landscapes due to their attractive foliage and striking flowers. Certain species are also used in forestry for timber, tannin production, and stabilizing soil due to their extensive root systems. Some Acacia species produce edible seeds and gum.
- Benefits: Acacias have environmental and ecological benefits. They are nitrogen-fixing plants, which can improve soil fertility. They also provide habitat and food for wildlife, including shelter for birds and insects and forage for livestock.