The Waddy wattle

The Waddy wattle is a true relic from an age gone by.

A lot of Australians would never have seen Acacia peuce, known as ‘Waddy wattle’ among other things. It grows in three distinct locations in the deserts of central Australia.

The tree is found in open, arid plains that usually receive less than 150mm of rain each year, and typically grows on shallow sand aprons overlaying gibber or clay slopes and plains, and between longitudinal dunes or between often dry watercourses.

The wood of the Waddy wattle is extremely hard and dense, with dark, purple-coloured heartwood, and the trunk and branches are covered with a fibrous grey-brown bark. Flowers are a pale-yellow colour and appear in autumn and spring, usually following heavy rain events, and following flowering the species forms long, flat, pods with a papery texture containing large, flat seeds.

It’s a very slow-growing species and can live up to 200 years. Sapling and juvenile trees have a conifer-like look and can take up to three years to reach a height of one metre. Some individuals are estimated to live over 500 years.

Although the Waddy wattle looks to favour an inhospitable environment, the tree is often host to various butterflies and their larvae, and also offers perches and nesting sites for birds, from grey falcons to desert finches. The foliage is often chewed by insects, and saplings were eaten by grazers such as cattle. Pioneering farmers were reported to use the tree to make highly durable and termite-resistant fenceposts.

Learn more about Acacia peuce here.

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