silver wattle (Acacia dealbata subsp. dealbata)

Size: 
6 to 30m. In Taroona, usually up to 8m
Form: 
Tree
Natural Distribution: 
Widespread in Tasmania and south-east mainland Australia.
Description: 

Aboriginal people ground silver wattle seeds to make flour and ate the sticky gum which weeps from the tree when insects attack.

Early European settlers extracted tannin from the bark of both silver and black wattles to tan (preserve) animals hides for the leather industry.

Both the common name (silver) and species name (dealbata) refer to this tree's silver-grey appearance (dealbatum = Latin 'whitewashed'). The word 'wattle' is of English origin and refers to the flexible branches woven between stakes for building fences or walls - a 'wattle and daub' construction. The 'daub' is the mud or clay used to layer over the branches for weatherproofing. Early settlers' huts were made with this 'wattle and daub' technique using branches from both silver and black wattles.

Habitat Value:

Yellow-tailed black cockatoos feed on wood-boring grubs living inside the trunks and branches. Small birds and insects feed on the pollen, and caterpillars munch on the leaves.

(Photos:  David Fitzgerald and Fiona Rice)

STUDENT INQUIRY QUESTIONS

Why are wattles called wattles?

Which part of silver wattles can be made into a sweet drink?

What have silver wattles and black wattles got to do with leather?

See if you can find out the botanical term for the fine, feathered foliage you find on both silver and black wattles.