Help us revive Australia's floral emblem
You can’t get more Australian the ‘Green & Gold’; a colour-scheme inspired by the glorious flower that is our national emblem – the Golden Wattle.
But did you know that the Golden Wattle didn’t officially become our National Floral Emblem until 1988, thanks to the efforts of Hazel Hawke?
Acacia Pycnantha in all its green & gold glory. Photo – Mauro Rodregues / Shutterstock.com
A symbol of our nation
The Golden Wattle, Acacia pycnantha, has been an Australian symbol since Federation in 1901, and was officially included in the Australian Coat of Arms soon after. Sprigs were included with letters, knitted socks and cakes sent by loved ones to WW1 soldiers in Gallipoli and on the Western Front to remind them of home. In recent years, its influence has grown as a more significant emblem of 'remembrance and mourning', being worn by politicians and families at the recent MH17 commemoration events. Many awards also display the golden wattle, including the emblem of the Order of Australia. The Australian Institute of Horticulture's highest recognition is the Golden Wattle.
A stamp depicting our floral emblem. Photo – Boris15 / Shutterstock.com]
In 1988 – our Bicentenary year – the Golden Wattle was finally bestowed the official honour of becoming our National Floral Emblem. It is said that when Hazel Hawke discovered in 1987 that we didn't have an official flower, she nudged her husband, the then Prime Minister Bob Hawke, urging him to upgrade the wattle’s status.
So why this species of wattle?
The Golden Wattle is endemic to more states than most wattles. It's truly a grand wattle with generous heads of golden puffball flowers and long, lance-shaped leaves produced on a small, 3-4m open vase-shaped tree. It also possesses an evocative 'wattle' scent that country-folk and lucky gardeners who grow it identify.
Erupting into flower all through the outback right now.
Celebrating our floral emblem
National Wattle Day is celebrated on 1 September, however this was not always the case. It was originally celebrated on 1 August in colonial NSW, when most wattles bloom, only to be out voted by southern states in 1913 but not gazetted until 1992.
Despite it’s significance, sadly the Golden Wattle is not very often planted in school grounds or private gardens when Wattle Day comes around.
Why not buck the trend, and revive our floral emblem by planting a seedling Golden Wattle if you can find one.