Acacia is part of a family of 800 different tree species spread worldwide. Specialists argue that the term "acacia mimosa," applied to a specific type of yellow flowering acacia tree (Acacia dealbata) is a mistake, as there are purple flowering mimosas that are not of the acacia family grown on the beaches of California and in Japan. The acacia dealbata, known by most of the world as the golden mimosa, is a yellow flowering tree native to Australia and nationalised through Europe.
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Acacia trees are members of the legume family and are known for their bright flowers. The legume family is one of the three largest groups of flowering plants. Not all acacias are mimosas, but they are two very closely related species of tree. Some species of acacia are the flat-topped trees typical of an African landscape panorama. The Acacia dealbata is also known as a mimosa tree. Acacia dealbata flowers have diminished or no petals and grow in bursts of yellow or white heads of spikes. These trees are typical of temperate, tropical and desert areas.
Acacia dealbata also known as mimosa is a tree seen in February through March along the streets of France and Italy as it bursts forth with colour and fragrance. La Route des Mimosas is a 130 kilometre drive along the Mediterranean coastline named for the fragrant yellow bursts of colour. This tree is native to Australia and was introduced to the South of France in the 19th century. Wealthy homeowners along the Cote d'Azur grew it in their gardens until it escaped and took to the wild.
The acacia dealbata can grow to an impressive height of 30 meters. However, out of its native Australian land, in Europe, it reaches between 10 and 30 feet. The leaves are split in a pinnate form and coloured a Mediterranean blue or green. It's best known for the puffs of yellow flowers that bloom during the spring. Stems and trunk can be grey or rich-brown and smooth. Some species of the acacia have unpleasant thorns but the Acacia dealbata is not one of them.
This tree is happy in a well drained soil and full sun. It will thrive in temperate climates, deserts and tropical gardens. You must winter this tree indoors should you try to grow in a colder climate. Bonsai versions of the Acacia dealbata are popular, but getting it to flower can be difficult. Let the soil dry between watering. Pruning is important because acacias will grow up and out, blocking other plants from getting much sun at their base and putting a lot of weight on individual branches.
Presoak seeds for 12 hours before sprouting them in warm weather or in a greenhouse. They will sprout within two months at a temperature of 25 degrees Celsius. Pot them in individual pots and let them grow in a greenhouse through the first winter. Once the cold has passed, you can plant them in your garden, in a sunny, well drained area. For the first couple of outdoor winters you may want to cover them to protect them from the cold.
The cut flowers of the Acacia dealbata are a welcomed addition to European flower arrangements. They are cultivated throughout France and Italy for their fragrant flowers and the blooms are used in perfume making. A yellow dye can be made from the flowers and a green dye from the leaves. The wood of an acacia tree is highly useful for hardwood, furniture and pulp. Arabic gum is a food additive derived from the acacia tree, Australia imports hundreds of thousand of dollars worth of Arabic gum annually.
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