Large shrub or small tree to 10 m, sometimes developing a spreading crown. Phyllodes to 20 cm long and up to 2 cm wide, occasionally bluish. Flowers are large golden balls in spring.
Orange wattle is an extremely rugged tree, adaptable to barren slopes, derelict land, and exceptionally arid conditions in Australia and North Africa. It grows rapidly and is used for reclaiming eroded hillsides and wastelands and for stabilizing drift sands as well as for fuel. This is one of the best woody species for binding moving sand. It is useful for windbreaks, amenity plantings, beautification projects, and roadside stabilization in semiarid regions. The leaves, or phyllodes, are palatable to livestock when fresh or dried into hay, especially used as supplementary feed for sheep and goats. Crushed seeds have been fed to sheep without ill effects. Regrowth of established bushes is so good that Acacia saligna can be completely grazed off without harming the plants. The damaged bark exudes copious amounts of a very acidic gum that seems to show promise for use in pickles and other acidic foodstuffs
Acacia saligna is native to the southwestern corner of western Australia. In its native habitat, the summer temperature ranges from about 23°–36°C, winter temperatures from 4°–9°C. The plant does not withstand frost and grows best where the winter and summer means are between 13° and 30°C respectively. Grows from near sea level to about 300 m, with isolated occurrences at higher elevations. Particularly drought hardy, it grows where annual rainfall is as low as 250 mm, though it probably does better with 350–600 mm. It grows well where annual rainfall is as high as 1,000 mm. Grows mainly on sandy, coastal plains, but is found from swampy sites and riverbanks to small, rocky hills (often granitic) and coastal slopes. It occurs on poor acid or calcareous sands, under the most dry and adverse soil conditions, in moderately heavy clays and a range of podzols.
Edible Usage: Flowers - cooked. Rich in pollen, they are often used in fritters.
Other Usage: A yellow dye is obtained from the flowers. A green dye is obtained from the seed pods. On a 10% moisture basis, the bark contains 21.5% tannin. Plants are heavily armed with thorns and make a good screen or hedge in warm temperate areas.
Cultivation: Prefers a sandy loam and a very sunny position. Succeeds in dry soils. Succeeds in any good garden soil that is not excessively limey. Most species become chlorotic on limey soils. Tolerates maritime exposure. Trees are not very hardy outdoors in Britain, they tolerate occasional temperatures down to between -5 and -10øc, but even in the mildest areas of the country they are likely to be killed in excessively harsh winters. Plants spread by means of suckers and trees that have been killed in cold weather can sometimes regrow from the roots. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby. It also has a symbiotic relationship with ants.
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a sunny position in a warm greenhouse. Stored seed should be scarified, pre-soaked for 12 hours in warm water and then sown in a warm greenhouse in March. Germinates in 3 - 4 weeks at 25øc. Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, July/August in individual pots in a frame. Overwinter in a greenhouse for the first winter and plant out in their permanent positions in late spring or early summer.
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