In our Tasmanian bush and in the suburbs Spring is evidenced by the budding and blooming of the early flowering native acacias. Last year, I included photographs of a few different varieties of these trees, commonly known as wattles, in various blog posts. Over the weekend during a suburban ramble, I was delighted to come across the early awakenings of a couple of wattle trees.
In my photo below, on the lower left of the image you can see some ‘open’ flower balls. As yet I have not been able to identify this acacia tree: it looked something like an Acacia Riceana otherwise known as the Arching Wattle, but it was not a prickly bush so this means it is another variety of the 950 species of acacias.
Wattles have been known and used by Australia’s indigenous population for thousands of years as an excellent food source. According to WildSeed Tasmania , the Acacia mearnsii ‘Black Wattle’ is one of a number of local wattle trees which have edible seeds suitable for flour production and for medicinal uses of its bark. More information can be read at Bush Tucker Edible Acacias. The Australian Native Food Industry says the edible parts are ‘Seed – the seed is harvested, then roasted and can be ground or sold whole. The flowers (without stalks) can also be used, typically in pancakes, scones and scrambled eggs or omelettes.’ This website also contains information about the nutritional value: wattle seed is a high energy source, contains a wide range of minerals and provides valuable fibre to the diet. The seed pods appear in the first part of the year so, when I am walking along the Derwent in the first three months of 2016, I will remember this readily available food source.
Finding cooked produce containing wattle seed in cafes or restaurants is not unusual. Native Tastes of Australia lists many recipes for mouthwatering cakes, pies, meat dishes and much more.