Acacia longifolia Sydney golden wattle
Often used as a rapidly growing screen, Sydney golden wattle appears in the form of small trees in front of 340 Bonair Siding in a landscape featuring Australian and New Zealand plants. See it clustered along Knight Way at Campus Drive and nearby. 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 April, 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 Jane Stanford Way – then 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. Minor edits; removals noted; all locations now up to date (Mar 2018, SP). Moved mention of removed plants at the Bechtel International Center and between Roth Way and Serra Street to these revision comments; added Knight Way location; minor edits (Jun 2023, SP).