IV: Acacia

The acacia family has shaped the course of history.

quartidi, the 14th of Prairial, Year CCXXXI
The acacia with its distinctive flattened crown. Photo by David Clode / Unsplash

Good morning. Today is quartidi, the 14th of Prairial, Year CCXXXI. We celebrate l'acacia, a widespread desert tree, also known as wattle, of many uses.

The flower of the golden wattle is really a cluster of tiny flowers arranged in a globular structure that looks like a sunburst, and it's the national flower of Australia. Acacias are predominant there for the same reason as eucalypts: fire resistance. When bush fires clear the path, acacia are left standing to fill in the land. The golden wattle's colors of green and gold are often used as Australia's official colors in sporting competitions and other international events, making it one of those special nations – like the Netherlands and New Zealand – that discards its own flag's colors for something more unique and iconic.

The acacia tree is a worthy inclusion almost beyond measure. It's one of the most useful trees on the planet – and it truly spans the globe – and responsible for a surprising number of iconic and important everyday things in our world. It's a prolific tree, and has spawned several branches on its own evolutionary diagram, which is somewhat ironic given its preferred flattish shape in real life.

Remarkably, this tree is a member of the same family as yesterday's peas, as its fruits grow in a legume manner. But there are so many species of acacia that it's hard to generalize about all of them at once. In fact, about 20 years ago, botanists started splitting the acacia grouping up into distinct subspecies, and that is a useful lens through which to explore this extraordinary tree: