Hickory Wattle

Description

Common names

Hickory Wattle, Lightwood, Broad-leaf Wattle, Bastard Myall, Black Wattle, Broad Leaf Wattle, Broad-leaved Wattle, Fish Wattle, Hickory, Weetjellan (d"harawal), Lignum Vitae, Sally Wattle, Screw Pod Wattle, Screw-pod Wattle, Scrub Wattle.

Scientific names

Acacia implexa.

Family

Mimosaceae.

Genus

Acacia.

Name origin

Meaning entangled, referring to the pods.

Rainfall

500mm.

Growth rate

Moderate.

Growth height

5-12m.

Presence in Australia

Widespread, in most catchments and districts.

This specie has been identified in the following Australian states: Qld, NSW, ACT, Vic, Tas, SA, NT.

Habitat

Various vegetation communities.

Habit

Erect or spreading tree, 5-12m high. Greyish bark and sickle-shaped "leaves".

Similar species

Distinguished from Blackwood (A. melanoxylon) by its longer, sickle-shaped "leaves", different flowering time and habitat (although they occasionally grow together). Funicle (ovule or seed stalk) is cream and folded under the seed in Lightwood, and red, encircling the seed in Blackwood.

Site preference

Well-drained soil including shallow dry soil in hill country. Open situations. Resists frosts. Tolerates fire, most droughts, and strong wind (although form may be affected). Resents poorly-drained soil.

Characteristics

Very long-lived. Moderate growth rate. Wasps form galls on flower buds in some areas. Conspicuous woody galls also caused by a fungus.

Flowering

Pale yellow to almost white, usually Dec-Apr.

Seed collection

Mid-spring to autumn. Seed may take 11 months to form. Monitor regularly, as seeds dropped soon after maturity. Dust from pods and other debris can irritate.

Propagation

From scarified seed (±28 viable seeds per gram). Pour boiling water over seed and soak for several hours before drying and sowing.

Regeneration

By root suckering, from soil-stored seed after disturbance, such as fire, ripping and ploughing, and from cut stumps. Disturbance reduces competition for moisture and light, and enhances germination. Establishes well when direct seeded.

Shade and shelter

Useful medium-level cover, long-lived plant in windbreaks. Fair shade, resistant to de-barking by livestock, and tolerant of open paddock conditions and stock camps. Fencing remnants recommended to preserve and regenerate trees.

Land protection

Excellent recharge control on rocky hills. Erosion control through spreading root system. Legume, improves soil fertility through "fixing" nitrogen.

Fuel

Very good fuel, but often too small.

Timber

Hard, close-grained, dark-brown with yellowish lines. Similar quality to Blackwood (A. melanoxylon) timber. Takes a high polish, and is interesting for turning and cabinet work. Bark useful for tanning.

Wildlife

Excellent habitat. Insects, such as ants, and birds, including parrots and native pigeons eat seed. King Parrot eats half-ripe seed pods. Because it flowers when other flowers are scarce, provides valuable pollen for many insects, including wasps which parasitize pasture grubs. Insect-eating birds also attracted. Galls, formed by wasps, provide habitat for other insects. Grubs in bark provide valuable food for birds including the Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. Excellent roost sites for birds.

Koori

Fibre made into string. Leaves used as a fish poison. Bark used medicinally to treat skin diseases. Timber used for woomeras.

Ornamental

Attractive summer-flowering ornamental and shade for gardens and rockeries. Shallow roots do not interfere with utilities or raise footpaths. Suckers if cut back severely or if roots are damaged. Susceptible to snails when young.

Other

Leaves produce yellow dye with alum, and brown dye when copper is used as mordant.