A LIVING HISTORY BLOG.

18TH CENTURY LIVING HISTORY IN AUSTRALIA.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The Wattle As Food and Etc.

Trying to find good images & information about Eastern Australian native plant foods is not easy. Information is scant, & few people are willing to say "this plant is edible". We have a lot of Acacia Wattles growing in our forest, but I have found it dificult to distinguish between the types. The following images are my own, & I believe them to be of the Black Wattle. However, the A. Dealbata or Silver Wattle is very similar, but appears to have the same uses.
I have chewed & sucked on the sap of this wattle & found it rather bland, little to no taste at all. I had no ill effects from chewing this sap whilst taking photos or afterwards. It has been almost 2 hours now & still no ill effects, however I did not swallow any of the sap except what disolved in my mouth.





Black Wattle.
Many wattles exude a gum either naturally or as a response to wounding. The gum of
several species in the Gardens was eaten. For some Aboriginal groups this was a snack food
or a food for children. The gum could also be disolved in water and nectar added to make a
drink – this was reportedly done with A. dealbata.
http://www.anbg.gov.au/gardens/education/programs/pdfs/aboriginal-use-of-wattles.pdf




Acacia dealbata
Silver Wattle
• medium to large tree with grey-green feathery foliage, bright
yellow flowers in winter-spring followed by purple seed pods
• very fast growing, prefers deep moist soils, semi shade
• food source for possums, sugar gliders, caterpillars and birds
• Aborigines used gum as a source of food, medicine and fibres,
seeds were eaten and wood used for weapons and tools
• watercourses, floodplains, sheltered slopes
• tolerates a wide range of soil types
http://www.banyule.vic.gov.au/Assets/Files/IPFYG%20booklet.pdf






Acacia mearnsii
Black Wattle
• medium to large tree with dark green feathery foliage, scented
pale yellow flowers in spring-summer
• very fast growing, prefers dry well drained soils, full sun, often
subject to borer attack
• food source for sugar gliders, caterpillars and birds
• Aborigines used wood for weapons and tools, gum as a food
source and adhesive, bark for its fibres and medicine
• exposed and sheltered slopes, ridges, plains


*Be careful not to mistake for the introduced Early Black Wattle*
http://www.banyule.vic.gov.au/Assets/Files/IPFYG%20booklet.pdf




Black Wattle.
Sap
The sap was prized as a food or drink dissolved in water with a dash of sweet wattle flower nectar and a few formic ants for a lemony flavour and quenching drink, a treat during their long journeys across the woodland landscape.


Mixed with ash when melted, it plugged holes in their water carrying vessels and watercraft.


The sap was so important that they melted and mixed it with burnt mussel shells or ashes and carried it about in balls when on walkabout.


When the black wattle was in full flower, the men of the aboriginal bands sharpened their flint headed spears. They understood that the flowering provided nature's indication that the roots were in the best condition for eating following a lush grazing period on the succulent, springtime grasslands and grassy woodlands.


During winter insects, birds and marsupials are hosted by the black wattle with the aid of their supplies of nectar in their leaf axials. These creatures provide an important predatory role to deal with tree die back caused by scarab beetles and pasture pests.


Black wattles, along with gums, native box, native hop form the framework vegetation on so-called "Hill-topping" sites. They are often isolated remnant pockets of native vegetation amongst a lower sea of exotic pasture. These "Hill topping" sites are critical habitat for male butterflies to attract females for mating, which then lay their eggs under the wattle's bark elsewhere but still within close proximity. It's the only acceptable mating site in the area for these butterflies.


Black wattle flowers provide very nitrogen rich pollen with no nectar. They attract pollen-feeding birds such as our Wattle Birds, Yellow Throated Honey Eaters and New Holland Honey Eaters. The protein rich nectar in the leaf axials is very sustaining for nurturing the growth of juvenile nestlings and young invertebrates, e.g. ants.
http://anpsa.org.au/APOL19/sep00-4.html

The Early Black Wattle, also known as Queen Wattle as far as I can tell looks just like the Silver Wattle & the Black Wattle!!! So how one is supposed to tell them apart I have no idea! If anyone out there does know the difference, PLEASE let me know.

My thanks to Karl for the following information.
Hey Keith,



In answer to your question...


6. Leaflets 1-4 mm long, adult leaflets hairless on upper surface and densely hairy on lower surface.
Flowers pale yellow to cream. Pods circular in cross section,
hairy and deeply constricted between seeds..................................................................*A. mearnsii (Mearns Black Wattle)


6. Leaflets 5-15 mm long, adult leaflets hairless or with a few marginal hairs. Flowers
golden yellow. Pods flat, hairless and only slightly constricted between seeds..............*A. decurrens (Early Black Wattle)
Look here for more details...
http://www.herbiguide.com.au/Descriptions/hg_a_key_for_weedy_acacias_and_similar_native_species.htm
Karl.
http://ranger-pathfinder-notes.blogspot.com/

3 comments:

Karl said...

Hey Keith,

In answer to your question...

6. Leaflets 1-4 mm long, adult leaflets hairless on upper surface and densely hairy on lower surface.
Flowers pale yellow to cream. Pods circular in cross section,
hairy and deeply constricted between seeds..................................................................*A. mearnsii (Mearns Black Wattle)

6. Leaflets 5-15 mm long, adult leaflets hairless or with a few marginal hairs. Flowers
golden yellow. Pods flat, hairless and only slightly constricted between seeds..............*A. decurrens (Early Black Wattle)

Look here for more details...

http://www.herbiguide.com.au/Descriptions/hg_a_key_for_weedy_acacias_and_similar_native_species.htm

Karl.

http://ranger-pathfinder-notes.blogspot.com/

Le Loup said...

Karl! You little ripper! Thank you.
I have added you answere to the blog post. Much appreciated.

Karl said...

No problems Keith...

Happy to help.

Karl.