Wattle Day – 1st September

Acacia pycnantha – Golden wattle. Australia’s floral emblem

Today is wattle day all over Australia, a celebration of the Acacia genus, which I believe to be the biggest plant genus in Australia, and one which has a long history of use for food, medicines and many other purposes.

History of wattle day

The first wattle day on record was held in Hobart as far back as 1838. It was held sporadically at different times in different states, and it wasn’t until 1992 that it was gazetted as a national event to be held on the 1st September. We can thank the so –called wattle lady, Maria Hitchcock of Armidale NSW, who campaigned to get wattle day gazetted, following her success in having the golden wattle (Acacia pycnantha) gazetted as the Australian floral emblem in 1988.  Her book, “A Celebration of Wattle”, (Rosenberg Publishing, 2012) tells the story of the history of wattle day, whilst also containing botanical and horticultural tips along with an anthology of wattle poems, songs and plays.

It is the day for wearing a sprig of wattle, and celebrating the beginning of Spring in Australia. For more on wattle day, and events that are held round the country, check out the Wattle Day Association at  http://www.wattleday.asn.au/

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Image from Wikipedia

At the Queensland Herbarium, wattle day was celebrated on the 29th August, which is also volunteers day. As with most Herbaria, volunteers play a crucial role in helping with the mounting and labeling of plant specimens. Sprigs of wattle and a lavish spread for morning tea marked the occasion.

Finally, check out these books on edible and other uses for Acacia, particularly relevant to South Australia and the inland regions of Australia

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Art Tucker RIP


Today I learned that my friend and mentor, Dr. Arthur Tucker, just passed away following a sudden illness. Art was an economic botanist with a wide range of interests. His main passion was aromatic plants, and he is regarded as a world authority on aromatic chemistry, having managed an analytical laboratory where he performed GC-MS analysis for both academic and economic pursuits. Art lived in Dover, Delaware (USA) and he was a research professor at DE State University, where he established and for many years curated the Claude E. Phillips Herbarium, where I was a frequent visitor.

Only last year we lost another mutual friend, Dr. James Duke. I probably learned more plant knowledge from these two intellectual giants than from all other sources combined. Here they are together at a garden luncheon I arranged several years ago, at the Maryland University of Integrative Health.

With Jim Duke (left) and Art Tucker

Among his many activities, Art was a designed consultant to the famous Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. Here we are with Arts other half, Sharon, another biologist.

Art was a prolific writer of scientific papers, and he also managed to produce one of the best herbal references around. He also had a great sense of humour, and loved to dress up!

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Art disguised as Carl Linneaus, handing me my doctoral papers in a mock ceremony for my 60th birthday.

I’ll always miss you Art, may you rest in peace.