Acacia longifolia
Sydney golden wattle

Fabaceae (pea family)
Eastern Australia
Acacia longifolia. From An Illustrated Manual of Pacific Coast Trees, Howard E. McMinn & Evelyn Maino

Widely used as a rapidly growing screen, Sydney golden wattle appears in the form of small trees at the Bechtel International Center (between Mayfield Avenue and Lagunita Drive), as shrubs between Roth Way and Serra Street, and in front of 340 Bonair Siding in a landscape featuring Australian and New Zealand plants. Three largish trees are opposite 770 Santa Ynez Street. The germinating seedlings exhibit a pair of feathery leaves, but from then on only 4- or 5-inch long phyllodes are produced; they are almost straight on one side and each with a few parallel veins. A gland will be found near the base on one edge. The yellow flowers, in the form of catkins an inch or 2 long, make a pleasing display from March to May, especially against the new foliage whose light green color is often sufficient to identify this species at a distance. The seeds were reportedly roasted and eaten by the Tasmanians in the 18th century.

Acacias have been used to stabilize sand dunes; Golden Gate Park was created, starting in 1871, from windswept sand dunes that had little natural vegetation. After the dunes were leveled and the swamp filled in with the aid of horse-drawn scoops (as also used for leveling the Quad site by cutting along Escondido Mall and filling along Serra Street to create the descent to the Oval), San Francisco’s sand was stabilized with hundreds of thousands of acacias, especially Sydney golden wattle, which tolerates sand, salt wind, and summer dryness and makes a fine floral display. The park was created by engineer-designer William H. Hall, as recounted by Elizabeth McClintock in The Trees of Golden Gate Park and San Francisco (Heyday Books, Berkeley, 2001).

Name derivation: Acacia – Greek akis, a sharp point; longifolia – with long leaves.

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005.