Alison Filosa joined Wave Hill in late fall 2017 as Horticultural Interpreter. A former John Nally Intern at Wave Hill, she has experience in both private and public horticulture, including the Queens Botanical Garden, Brooklyn Bridge Park and the High Line. She works with Charles Day and the rest of Wave Hill’s Public Programs Department.
Named after the Australian botanist Frederick Manson Bailey, who discovered many species in Australia, Acacia baileyana var. purpurea is a small evergreen tree with foliage that in the rigorous Australian climate would have a purple sheen that it loses as it ages. In the milder conditions of Wave Hill’s Conservatory, its foliage is blue-green, turning more gray with age.
Crowded on the stem, the leaves are feathery and bi-pinnate, meaning twice-divided. The Acacia is in the Fabaceae family, a relative of the pea. The name Acacia comes either from the Greek word akazo meaning “to sharpen,” or from the Egyptian word akakia for the Egyptian thorn (Acacia arabica).
Its common name, the Cootamundra wattle tree, refers to the town in New South Wales in which it resides. It’s called ‘wattle’ since early Australians wove its thin branches and trunk with mud and clay in the construction of their homes, a method know in Europe as wattle and daub.
The brilliant-yellow, pom-pom flowers of our Acacia baileyana are slightly fragrant and make this tree a showstopper right through to early spring! See it in the Palm House, the central section of the Marco Polo Stufano Conservatory.