Acacia seed, as seen in these seed pods, is the most common means of
growing Acacia trees, although a number of the many species of acacia have also
been propagated from cuttings.
The genus Acacia belongs to the family
Mimosaceae and are related to both the Locust and the Mimosa trees. There
are approximately 1350 species found throughout the world and close to
1000 of these are found in Australia.
Wattle: Worldwide, its most common name is “Wattle”. Australia's national floral emblem is
the Golden Wattle.
Australians celebrate Wattle Day on the 1st of September
Acacia wood is a beautiful hardwood. In the
Bible, it is called “shittim” and above all others, shittim was the wood God
commanded Moses to use to create the Ark of the Covenant into which Moses placed
the 2 stone tablets upon which The 10 Commandments were carved.
chapter of Exodus 37 is devoted to the creation of the Ark of the Covenant.
Acacia trees are very special plants.
Different varieties of acacia
trees are common in many countries such as Australia, Africa, Madagascar,
throughout Asia, Israel, Iran, Iraq, South America, southern parts of the United
States as well as in the Pacific.
Acacias are found in a wide range of
differing habitats from coastal, wet and tropical to sub-alpine (just below
treeline), but are most prevalent in the arid and semi-arid areas.
other plants, they will even grow on beaches and in rocky areas… near
the ocean taking their moisture from the saltwater!
Each year the tree flowers (usually yellow,
sometimes white or cream-colored) and afterward, seed pods which are about three
inches long, containing from five to six brownish-black seeds, ripen and turn
from green to brown. When fully ripe, the pods split to release the
Interestingly, unlike most plants, the
acacia seeds have a hard coating which,
in most cases, is nearly impervious to water, therefore, germination
does not usually occur unless some sort of pretreatment is first carried out.
In nature, the seed’s hard coating is
typically only broken down by the heat of a brushfire.
Hot Water Thermos Method of Opening the
Rub each seed with sandpaper or a nail
file to reduce the thickness of its hard, outer coating shell so that moisture
can penetrate inside, then place into a thermos of hot, but non-boiling water
overnight to see if the seed will swell.
Check them the next day. The infertile seeds
will float to the surface and should be discarded. Swollen seeds can be sown
and the remainder should be retreated by repeating the process by dumping the
thermos water out and putting new hot water onto them.
Remember, you do not want to cook the
delicate seed, inside, but only open the hard coating of its shell so that it
may accept water and begin to open and put a tap root out.
Seeds germinate in approximately 1-2
Depending on the species, the seeds grow
into either acacia trees or shrubs, which are hardy in many climates, but are not a
long-lived tree. The typical lifespan of acacia is between 30 to 40 years.
Acacia Seed as a Human Food Source
seed as a human food source has been a subject of increasing interest and
research in recent years. Much of this work is based on understanding the
traditional Aboriginal use of many of these species.
While the seed from most of the wattle
varieties are generally thought of as being poisonous or generally inedible,
there are a few exceptions. Forty-seven species of wattle trees growing in
southern Australia produce seeds which are suitable for human food. Some species
of acacia are also used as stock food, for example, the pods of A.
farnesiana (prickly Moses) and A. cambagei (gidyea) are eaten by
In both Australia and Africa, there are
several species of acacia seed which are edible. Seed is eaten and prepared in
different ways by indigenous (originating and living naturally, usually off the
land) Aboriginal Australians and is beginning to be marketed to other
The young green pods were eaten raw or the
green pods were roasted or steamed (e.g. A. ramulosa var. linophylla
and A. palustris). Dry, mature seed was ground into a flour, mixed with
a little water and eaten as a paste (e.g. A. murrayana (Colony Wattle) or
cooked as a porridge or mush. (A. aneura has a nutty flavor). Uncooked
seed from a small number of species were removed from the pods and eaten raw as
a ‘snack food’ (e.g. A. craspedocarpa, Hop Mulga).
Nutritional Value of Acacia Seed
Acacia has a long history of use by
the indigenous Aboriginal people over the last 4,000 years. They are extremely
nutritious and contain several times the protein of wheat. The fat content is
higher than most legumes. The mean total carbohydrate content is lower than that
of lentils, but higher than that of soybeans while the mean fiber content is
higher than that of other legumes such as lentils
The energy content is high in all species
tested. The seed of the edible wattle variety are low glycemic index foods.
The starch is digested and absorbed very slowly, producing a
small, but sustained rise in blood glucose and so delays the onset of exhaustion
in prolonged exercise or sports, which is especially useful to people in areas
of high heat indexes.
Subsequent laboratory testing and human
dietary trials on the species grown in Niger in Africa have shown that the seed
is highly nutritious and safe to eat. Wattle seed, is
now a valuable part of the diet of people in that area and provides a much
needed insurance against the recurring threat of famine.
The seeds of the tropical arid zone species,
such as A. elachantha (Kalkardi), A. thomsonii (Thomson's Wattle),
A. tumida (Pindan Wattle) and particularly A. colei (Cole's
Wattle), are currently being studied and show great promise as a new human food
source in the semi-arid regions of the Sahel, West Africa.
Research has shown that these fast-growing
species produce large crops of palatable, nutritious seeds, which are easy to
establish in the field, show excellent survival statistics and produce heavy
seed crops within two years of planting. The edible Wattle
variety are then processed using local technology and the resulting ground flour
has been incorporated into local recipes.
Acacia seed from some specific Acacia species
(not all), also provide a valuable food source not only to humans but to birds
and other wildlife.
Please do not attempt to collect
acacia seed, yourself, unless you are trained to do so. Many species of acacia contain toxic compounds and are not suitable for food.
Care needs to be taken
in the choice of species and acacia seed collection should only be performed by
a knowledgeable professional and, therefore, should only be purchased from a
trusted and reputable source.
Acacia Coffee Substitute
Acacia seed extract is added to sweet or
savory sauces, dairy desserts and is also used as a coffee-like beverage.
The low-glycemic index of the seed also
suggests possible potential in the diet of diabetics.
Ground Roasted Acacia Seed Flavoring
Ground roasted Wattle seed is now in
high demand for use as a ground flavoring product in pasta, biscuits, pastries
and breads and with its very unique, rich-roasted, toasty flavor, it complements
the flavoring in pancake batter, desserts, (mousse, creme brulee, anglaise) and
baked products such as muffins, breads and shortbread.
Wattle seed gives off a
chocolate-coffee-hazelnut blend of aromas which are now very popular as a
flavoring in desserts, especially ice-cream! (see recipe, below).
This edible Wattle seed is a
bushfood product and is still collected almost exclusively by Aboriginal people
from the Australian bush country.
As such, wattle seed is not yet grown
on a mass commercial scale and the demand far exceeds the supply. However,
edible acacia seed is now being exported in small quantities to the US, Canada,
UK, France, Japan and SE Asia.
Acacia Seed / Wattle Seed Ice-Cream
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
2-4 litres or 1 gallon of good quality
5g of premium Wattle Seed
Add a teaspoon of the premium wattle seed
into a glass and add just enough water to fully cover the acacia seed / wattle
seed grounds plus a couple more tablespoons of water.
- Heat mixture to the boil in a microwave or saucepan to infuse the
wattle seed flavor into the water.
- You may use the infused water only (if you don't want any grounds in
your ice-cream) but, preferably once the mixture cools, add the whole
mixture into approx. 2 litres (1/2 gallon) of semi-thawed good quality
- Mix the ground acacia seed / wattle seed through the ice-cream.
Re-freeze and then serve with a light garnish of icing sugar on top to give
your friends a unique chocolate-coffee-hazelnut aroma-flavored ice-cream
For smaller quantities, reduce the recipe accordingly and place partially thawed
Ice Cream into your blender on low speed to do the mixing for you!
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