Home
Go to Species Gallery Go to Image Gallery Go to Info Gallery Go to For Schools Go to Societies & Groups Go to About Go to Contact Go to Links Go to News & Events  
 

Uses of Australian Acacias

This list includes utilization both within Australia and abroad; only selected representative species are given for each use. This list was first published in Maslin (1997) and subsequently in Maslin & McDonald (2004).

Wood Products

  • Sawn timber. Acacia auriculiformis, A. crassicarpa, A. mangium (these tropical acacias are very important plantation species in Asia).

  • Furniture (solid wood and veneers). Acacia celsa, A. melanoxylon (the best known, high quality Australian timber species), A. salicina.

  • Pulp. Acacia aulacocarpa, A. crassicarpa, A. mearnsii and A. mangium (plantation grown for pulp production).
    Reconstituted wood products. Acacia mangium, A. mearnsii (the potential of Acacia for this purpose has not yet been fully assessed).

  • Fuelwood & charcoal. Acacia colei, A. stenophylla (many acacias are excellent for these purposes).

  • Posts and small poles. Acacia acuminata, A. aneura, A. dealbata (many species have hard, durable wood).

  • Tool handles. Acacia falciformis, A. silvestris.

  • Musical instruments. Acacia papyrocarpa (see Landscope, Spring 1995 issue).

  • Craftwood/Turnery. Acacia acuminata, A aneura, A. implexa, A. papyrocarpa (many acacias are excellent for these purposes).

Bark Products

  • Tannin. Acacia mearnsii, A. pycnantha (used mainly in the production of leather products; Australia imports most of its tannin requirement, about $6.5 million per annum).

  • Adhesives. Acacia falciformis, A mearnsii, A. parramattensis (Wattle tannin adhesives can produce the highest quality bonding, used in reconstituted wood products).

  • Anticorrosive agent. Acacia mearnsii (recent U.K. technology shows some promise for future development).

Gums

  • Gum arabic (from A. senegal) is an important food additive and industrial emulsifier; Australia imports approximately A$1.5 million of gum arabic annually. The gums of certain Australian acacias have excellent properties but are not produced naturally in commercially viable quantities.

Environmental Utilisation

  • Numerous species of Acacia have been used for a range of environmental protection purposes. Species such as A. auriculiformis, A. dealbata, A. decurrens, A. mearnsii and A. saligna have been used for soil erosion control and windbreaks in a number of countries overseas. Species such as A. ampliceps and A. stenophylla have been used for the remediation of alkaline and saline soils. In Australia in recent years, a wide range of species, including A. mearnsii, A. microbotrya and A. saligna, have been incorporated into large-scale revegetation projects.

Seeds for Human Food

  • Overseas the seeds of A. colei and A. elachantha are used as a source of human food in parts of sub-saharan Africa, particularly during times of famine. In Australia, A. victoriae is the main species currently marketed as 'wattleseed' by the native bushfood industry.

Fodder

  • Acacias generally have low fodder value but some species, especially A. aneura, are nevertheless important drought feed in arid rangeland areas. In some semiarid regions A. saligna is used as a forage plant, despite its low digestibility.

Aboriginal Utilisation

  • Apart from seed for food (see text), the Australian Aborigines utilised most of the other parts of the acacia. They used the leaves, twigs and bark mostly for medicinal purposes, whilst the wood was used for fuel and ash for pituri, as well as for making a variety of tools (e.g. spears and clubs) and artefacts. Furthermore, there were a variety of insect infestations that were also a food source, for example witchetty grubs in the roots of A. kempeana.

Horticulture/Floriculture

  • Having great variation in growth form, foliage, bark, flowers and pods Acacia offers much scope for horticultural and floricultural utilisation, and for amenity planting. Acacia baileyana, A. dealbata, A. podalyriifolia are popular in Europe as cut flowers. Acacia redolens is used in median strip plantings in California; A. auriculiformis is widely used as a street tree in Asia.

Miscellaneous

  • Pollen. Acacia baileyana, A. dealbata, A. silvestris (bee food for honey production).

  • Essential oils. Acacia dealbata, A. farnesiana (French perfumeries; wattle oil sold in Australia for fragrance are generally synthetic because pure wattle oil is very expensive).

  • Medicinal. See under Aboriginal Utilisation above. Also, recent research suggest that triterpenoid saponins from A. victoriae have potential as novel anticancer agents.

References

Maslin, B.R. (1997). Australia's golden future. Landscope 12(3): 16-22.

Maslin, B.R. and McDonald, M.W. (2004). AcaciaSearch: Evaluation of Acacia as a woody crop option for southern Australia. pp. 267. (Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation: Canberra.)

Page last updated: Wednesday 29 May 2013