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Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Yesterday, after reading some of your responses, I thought I should do a little research into "wattle".

Like most of you I have heard the term " wattle and daub" and knew it was a term for a particular style of building technique .

I've never thought much more about it.
I also knew that the plant we call "wattle " has a proper botanical name and that is "Acacia". There are hundreds of plants in the genus Acacia with a large number of them only found in Australia but Acacias can be found in many parts of the world like Europe and Africa.

The Australian bush is full of all sorts of different wattles.

The next step in my research was to check the dictionary and this is what I found:

wat·tle (wät′'l) noun
1. a sort of woven work made of sticks intertwined with twigs or branches, used for walls, fences, and roofs

2. Brit., Dialectal   a).a stick, rod, twig, or wand
                             b).a hurdle or framework made of sticks, rods, etc.
3. rods or poles used as the support of a thatched roof

4. Austral. any of various acacias: the flexible branches were much used by early settlers for making wattles

Of course there were other meanings to do with turkeys too !!

Then I came upon some information which I think explains why we in Australia call  Acacia plants  "wattles"

Acacias are commonly known as " wattles " in Australia. The old Anglo-Saxon word 'wattle' comes from the quick and handy house construction method of the early English settlers.

Branches and saplings were cut and woven onto wooden frames to create panels called wattles. This wattle-work was then daubed with mud and dung to fill the gaps. A hut could be built in a day and dried out that night by burning a fire inside. Wattle-and-daub huts were common in the early days of settlement in Australia. Various types of acacias were ideal for this work because the plants were plentiful and their cut stems were so flexible.

These wattle and daub huts were built by the early settlers of Australia.

Very basic, I'm afraid, not nearly as grand and comfortable as those built from wattle and daub that you see in the UK these days and I'm afraid they have not stood the test of time in our harsh environment and are no longer there for us to see. ( probably something to do with our termite population !)

So there you have it .
We call them Wattle Trees.
The rest of the world calls them Acacias.

To many of us they are the real symbol of Australia.

Oh, and there it is on the Australian Coat of Arms



  1. Ahhh, very good Helen. I was just going off to do a bit of research myself but you beat me too it.
    Very interesting and well presented. :)

  2. What a mine of information you are Helsie! Thanks for that - it is interesting to see where the names of things come from and to learn that your Wattle is part of the acacia family of which there were many in France. I was right in thinking that it resembles mimosa since they are both part of the same general family! Love those quickly built houses but what a shame they don't stand the test of time.

    Jane x

  3. Thank you - I enjoyed reading and learning all about the wattle
    Julie xxxxxx.

  4. Nice picture of you out the front of our house doing some crocheting Helsie !

  5. As I have said before don't take any notice of him anyone!!!

  6. PS Kate,
    Your comments are going to his head !!

  7. Thank you for the history on the Wattle. I'd love to get hold of a Wattle Day badge like they had years ago.

  8. I didn't realize that Wattle = Acacia. They are really beautiful trees. Thanks for the info Helen.

  9. Yeap.. once a teacher always a teacher. I listened to every word... quiz me.

  10. I learned something new today too (The Wattle /Acacia thing)

    I've been reflecting on your wattle posts and I cant recall seeing many of them in my part of the country. I'll keep a better eye out now spring is here!

  11. What an interesting post!

    I researched wattle building last fall after our last trip to Ireland. We were in Athlone town in a pub (Sean's Pub)that claimed to be the oldest pub in Ireland. To validate this, they had a piece of the original wattle framed and hung on the wall. Naturally, I had to learn something of building with wattle walls.

  12. Very interesting Helen, I love Mimosa which I think looks as if it is from the same family - does whattle have a lovely sweet smell like Mimosa? Thank you for such an interesting post.x