Golden Wattle – Australia’s floral emblem

Acacia pycnantha (Golden Wattle) is Australia’s national floral emblem

Wattles have long had special meanings for Australians, and for more than a century they have been a popular symbol of Australia and Australians. There are more than 1,073 described Acacia species (or wattles) that have evolved across Australia over 35 million years. Amongst these there are many hundreds of species with yellow blossoms that are commonly called golden wattle. However there is just one, Acacia pycnantha (Golden Wattle), that was officially gazetted as Australia’s national floral emblem in 1988.

Acacia pycnantha (Golden Wattle) in full bloom in Canberra © S.D. Searle

© S.D. Searle

Acacia pycnantha (Golden Wattle) is a small tree that grows to about 8 metres in height and lives for about 12 years although it can live longer if regularly tip-pruned. Its native distribution is in south-east Australia, from South Australia to Victoria, NSW and the ACT.

The Official Proclamation

On 19 August 1988The then Governor-General, the Rt Hon Sir Ninian M Stephen AK GCMG GCVO KBE, proclaimed Acacia pycnantha as the national floral emblem. The following words were published in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, No. S 259 Thursday 1 September 1988.

PROCLAMATION

By His Excellency the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia

N.M.STEPHEN
Governor-General

I, SIR NINIAN MARTIN STEPHEN, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, acting with the advice of the Federal Executive Council, hereby declare that the flowers of Acacia pycnantha, the plant known as Golden Wattle, however depicted, shall be the national floral emblem of Australia.

(L.S.) GIVEN under my hand and the Great Seal of Australia on 19 August 1988

By His Excellency’s Command,

ROBERT RAY

Minister of State for Home Affairs

GOD SAVE THE QUEEN

[Note that a sprig of wattle is positioned under the royal crown in the design for the crest for the Governor-General of Australia]

Video – all you wanted to know about Australia’s national floral emblem

See this informative Wattle Day Association video about Australia’s national floral emblem  (29 minutes). Note there are 10 seconds of silence at the beginning.
Researched, written & presented by Dr Suzette Searle (President of the Wattle Day Association). Recorded by John Schmidt September 2023.