Swaths of yellow seem spray-painted on the landscape as I drive across Mt. Tam on Pantoll Road. This is green wattle, or Acacia decurrens, yet ANOTHER naturalized acacia.
As I keep writing about this genus, the more it seems like a game of mix-and-match. All the species look superficially similar, yet all have distinct combinations of leaf shape and flower type that make it easy to tell one from another.
The pom-pom-like flowers of green wattle remind me of those fiber optic table lamps that were popular back in the 80s: the ones where shafts of light dance up a spray of delicate filaments. There is something space-agey about these little blooms. They make a lovely sight, especially when they are fresh and surrounded by the tree’s dusky-green, feathery leaves. Each leaf is bipinnately compound, meaning the blade is divided then divided again into myriad tiny leaflets. This also is the only local acacia to have true leaves, not simply overblown, leaf-like petioles called phyllodes.
Green wattle is not native, but not listed as invasive by CalFlora. As with the other acacias, it is native to Australia. It also goes by the names wattle and black wattle–a wacky Aussie name if I’ve ever heard one!