Facts About The Down Under Acacia Floribunda
Acacia floribunda is not a well known plant to those of us living in the northern hemisphere. A native of Australia, it has slowly been introduced to other countries, including the United States. Acadia floribunda has reportedly been naturalized in several states, and specimens can be observed in several botanical gardens, but detailed information of the plant is not easily forthcoming. Many on line horticultural or gardening sites give only a brief description, or nothing at all beyond the plant's taxonomic details.
Acacia floribunda is a small to medium sized evergreen tree, growing to around 18' to 20' in height. Commercial cultivars sold as shrubs grow to a height of about 3'. It enjoys use as a hedge, especially a wind breaking hedge, and is used throughout the eastern part of Australia, including Tasmania, for erosion control. Commercially, it is sold as an attractive ornamental tree or shrub, as it blooms profusely and is a fast grower. It flowers from July through November (in the southern hemisphere), with pale or creamy yellow blossoms which have a somewhat cylindrical shape. In shrub form it is quite compact, and characterized by weeping branches, quite a handsome plant. One negative factor about Acacia floribunda is that some people are allergic to its pollen, about 2% of the general population in fact, and a higher percentage among those who are in frequent contact with the plant. Though an evergreen, the plant is actually a member of the pea family, classified as a legume! Acacia floribunda also goes by a couple of other names, in Australia at least, those being Wattle, and White Sally Wattle. In grows best in a warm to sub-tropical environment. In the United States, the plant is hardy in USDA zones 8-10. It can tolerate frost but not a hard freeze.
The compactness of this plant, both in tree and shrub form, makes it very bird friendly, providing ample opportunities for a safe place in which to build a nest. The seeds of the acacia floribunda also attract birds, and some insects attracted to the tree in turn attract insect-eating birds.
Acacia floribunda is one of some 400 species making up the acacia family. Most species are evergreen, highly ornamental, and abundant bloomers, and if several different species are selected, one can enjoy blooms the entire year. Most species of acacia found in the United States are found in California, particularly southern California. Pasadena has had a particularly large population of acacia floribunda over the years. While adding much to the landscape, the species has been at times difficult to maintain due to its susceptibility to the greedy scale. Extensive work has been undertaken to control the damage to not only the acacias, but a number of other ornamentals as well, from attacks by varieties of scale over the years.
If you live in an area where the acacia can be successfully grown, you can either purchase a seedling, or start the plant from seeds. In the latter instance, the seeds should be started indoors during cooler weather. Set the plant(s) out in a permanent location when about 3 inches high. The plant does best in sun but will also grow in shady areas although the blooming may not be quite as profuse. These are attractive plants for hillsides where erosion control needs to be practiced, or in parking lots and highway dividers, with individual trees or shrubs adding to the attractiveness of a yard or smaller plot of ground. Perhaps some time in the future hybrids will be developed of the acacia floribunda, and other acacia species, so that those in the more northern climes can enjoy them as the people in California and Australia presently do.