This makes evolutionary sense, because the combined plants can then support a rich variety of pollinating insects and birds. They take it in turn to use the resident pollinators' services, the pollinators stay around all year, and everything gains. July and August are the time for the wattles to dominate the Australian bushland. These are similar to the better-known mimosas of the northern hemisphere, though some of the French ‘mimosas’, grown for the perfume industry, are really our Australian wattles.
If you wonder how this would look, think of the ‘Tudor’ style of house so favoured in Hollywood reconstructions, for Tudor architecture was also wattle and daub, usually with willow twigs under the whitewash. Other trees provided the timbers in Australia, but the abundant wattle shrubs provided the twigs.
As others did before us,
And we must sing a rebel song
And join in rebel chorus.
We'll make the tyrants feel the sting
O' those that they would throttle;
They needn't say the fault is ours
If blood should stain the wattle.
The symbol of our land,
Yer can stick it in a bottle,
Yer can hold it in yer hand.
Dry climates make plants do funny things sometimes, and it seems that phyllodes are more efficient in dry areas than the traditional leaf. The trees with large dark-green strap-like ‘leaves’ are really equipped with phyllodes instead.
It seems that even a national symbol, a cultural icon, even one that is a botanical oddity, must mind its manners or face banishment.
Soon, though, it will be time for the waratahs.