The Acacia Tree (Mimosoideae)
Acacia trees have been a plant of pride for many South Africans, and there are very few places you can go within our borders without stumbling upon one of these gorgeous trees. Planted along our roads and found in every nature reserve, the acacia sparks images of South Africa's picturesque landscapes. Here is everything you need to know to include this terrific tree into your garden.
- Acacias are indigenous to Southern Africa, Central America and Australia, where they are commonly called 'golden wattles'.
- There are over 80 species of acacia tree, with some species growing up to heights of 12m tall.
- Acacias are often used to control soil erosion in dry and damaged soils.
- They are also used to create protective hedges, creating shady areas for animals and often accommodate a variety of bird species for nest building areas.
- Acacias thrive in full sun with well-drained soil.
- These hardy water wise plants are perfect garden additions to areas where water may be scarce.
- Acacias are evergreen trees and don't require fertilizers making them a fairly low maintenance tree.
- Their leaves grow in slender lancet forms to help them conserve moisture and they will produce delicate puffball bloom clusters during the spring either in yellow or white.
- Caution should be taken when considering the planting location of an acacia tree as they produce a fair bit of 'lawn litter' including long, white thorns. Therefore planting by play areas and pool areas should be avoided.
- Acacias are a fast growing tree with a relatively short lifespan, living up to about 30 years.
- Pruning includes removing any dead branches from the tree during late autumn and early winter.
- Plant saplings either during autumn or spring and water deeply and weekly to promote deep roots. After roots have been established, the tree will only need watering every 3-4 weeks.
- Acacias are a fairly pest resistant tree but it's important to keep an eye out for aphids, scale and goat-moth.
Acacias are a wonderful addition to any South African garden as their stunning branches spread to form a beautiful umbrella silhouette. Water-wise, hardy and providing the ideal location for birdlife to call home, the acacia should be at the top of your list for trees to plant this year.
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Author: Lillian Rencken