Like us plants have two names that identify them specifically.
The first is the plant genus that separates one large group of plants from those that are different to them, the second is the species name that separates the different plants within a genus.
The largest genera in Australia is the Acacias and they are found from coastal to sub-alpine regions and from areas of high rainfall to the dry sub-tropical regions including Katherine.
Acacias are more commonly known as wattles and there are around 1350 different species of them found throughout the tropical, sub-tropical and temperate zones.
A total of 960 of these are native to Australia with 200 of these native to the Northern Territory.
More than a few of the Acacia species found in the Northern Territory are what are called endemic to an area, or they grow in one specific place and no other. This dizzying array of Acacia species outlines one of the difficulties of land management.
The biggest dilemma is how to make sure that the enormous variety of plants and animals are protected within our network of protected areas in such a way that the survival of each is ensured.
Acacias are legumes and have seed pods that look like pea-pods. Like other legumes the Acacia has a soil bacteria called Rhizobium sp. living in its roots that helps it take nitrogen directly from the air allowing it to thrive in extremely low nutrient Australian soils.
Acacias are well adapted to our ‘bust and boom’ water cycle. As seedlings they have ordinary leaves but as adults they exchange these for flattened stalks called phyllodes that are better able to limit water loss from the plant.
Nitmiluk National Park is home to some very beautiful Acacia species. Their flowers can look like spikes or balls and come in as many different shades of yellow as there are Acacias.
Each part of Nitmiluk has its own species of Acacia, each providing food and shelter to many of the parks animal species.
There are several Acacia species flowering in and around Nitmiluk at the moment.
These are all very seasonal so make sure you make the time to pop out and see them before they start setting seed.