Floral Emblem

Significance

Golden wattle

Golden wattle

Photo:  Royal Botanic Gardens, NSW.

Australia's national floral emblem is the golden wattle (Acacia pycnantha Benth.).

When in flower, the golden wattle displays the national colours, green and gold.

As one species of a large genus of flora growing across Australia, the golden wattle is a symbol of unity.

Wattle is ideally suited to withstand Australia's droughts, winds and bushfires. The resilience of wattle represents the spirit of the Australian people.

In recent times, the golden wattle has been used as a symbol of remembrance and reflection. On national days of mourning, for example, Australians are invited to wear a sprig of wattle.

The golden wattle has been used in the design of Australian stamps and many awards in the Australian honours system. A single wattle flower is the emblem of the Order of Australia.

National Wattle Day

The first day of September is National Wattle Day. It builds on a long unofficial tradition of wearing the wattle blossom on 1 September. The day was introduced in 1913 by an association called the Wattle Day League and formally recognised on 23 June 1992.

Australians can celebrate their floral heritage each Wattle Day by planting wattles.

History

Indigenous peoples of Australia soaked the gum of the golden wattle in water and honey to produce a sweet, toffee-like substance. The tannin from the bark was known for its antiseptic properties.

Colonial settlers cultivated the golden wattle using the bark in the tanning industry, the gum for glues and the blossom for its honey.

The golden wattle was unofficially accepted as the national floral emblem to mark Federation in 1901.

In 1912 the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Andrew Fisher MP, suggested that the wattle be included as a decoration surrounding the Commonwealth Coat of Arms.

Proclamation

The then Governor-General, the Rt Hon Sir Ninian M Stephen AK GCMG GCVO KBE, proclaimed the golden wattle as the national floral emblem on 19 August 1988.

About the golden wattle

The golden wattle (Acacia pycnantha Benth.) is an evergreen, spreading shrub or small tree.

It grows in the under storey of open forest, woodland and in open scrub in South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.

The common name, wattle, is derived from an Anglo-Saxon building technique. Wattles were flexible twigs or small branches interwoven to form the framework of buildings. This style of building was introduced to Australia by early British settlers and species of Acacia were used as wattles.

There are more than 760 different types of wattle across Australia.

Use of the national floral emblem

Permission is not required to reproduce the national floral emblem.

Fact sheet

This information is also available as a print fact sheet.

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Last Updated: 24 February, 2009