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The amazing ‘Scarlet Blaze’ red wattle

G5th August 2006

C25 Comments

Tenvironment, plants

Another horticultural curiosity!

For most people, wattles (scientifically known as Acacia) are recognisable by their cream or yellow-coloured flowers. There are 1200 Acacia species in the world. Of these, 950 are indigenous to Australia and none have red flowers. Yet, if you make the journey to the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, you will be able to see a remarkable red-flowered form of Acacia leprosa in bloom!


The flowers of A. leprosa ‘Scarlet Blaze’

The history of the red-flowered Cinnamon Wattle started in 1995 when two bush walkers found a single mutant seedling growing in a Victorian forest, 40 kilometres north-east of Melbourne. Upon discovery, 12 cuttings were removed and forwarded to the Royal Botanic Gardens. Only two of these cuttings survived, which was just as well because the original plant has since died. It was from these two cuttings that thousands of plants would eventually be produced.

The plant could not be propagated by seed because it was believed seedlings would produce yellow flowers, just like the parent plants. This turned out to be the case, so only cuttings or micropropagation could be used to propagate the red wattle and ensure the flowers maintain their crimson-red colour.

The genetic basis of the mutation has not been tested. The flower’s red colouration is derived from the filament of the flower. The anther remains a golden yellow colour typical of the species.


Flower detail, showing the red filaments and yellow anthers

In 1998, the Royal Botanic Gardens applied for Plant Breeders’ Rights over the mutant red wattle, and the application was accepted on 7 September that year. ‘Scarlet Blaze’ was chosen as the name for the new cultivar.

The red wattle was selected as Victoria’s floral emblem for the Centenary of Federation celebrations in 2001. The Minister for Environment and Conservation, Sherryl Garbutt, planted a specimen at the Royal Botanic Gardens on 4 September that year. However, the plant became very sickly and was silently replaced by gardens staff a number of times.

The species was developed commercially by Plant Growers Australia and released to the public in 2003 with much fanfare.


The weeping branches of A. leprosa ‘Scarlet Blaze’ growing
at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

The current specimen at the Royal Botanic Gardens was planted at that time, and has since grown to more than 5 metres in height and several metres in width. In the last week, it has burst into bloom and is peppered with delicate, crimson red flowers. The branches have a weeping habit and provide an attractively dense canopy.

If you want to see Acacia leprosa ‘Scarlet Blaze’ for yourself, it’s planted in a garden bed behind the National Herbarium of Victoria building. It is well worth a look!

References and Further Information:

  • Cross, R. (2001) Acacia leprosa ‘Scarlet Blaze’: A vintage red for Victoria’s Federation Flower. Australian Plants 21 (169): 205-207
  • Nader, C. (2001) A lucky find makes floral history. The Age, 5 September, p.9
  • Purdy, G. (2003) Wattle next. Herald-Sun, 5 July, p.W26.

You can see a comparative photo of A. leprosa and A. leprosa ‘Scarlet Blaze’ here.

   

Comments:

25 responses to “The amazing ‘Scarlet Blaze’ red wattle”

  • Written by Youra on 10 December 2008:

    Good Morning

    Wondering if you know at all where I can purchase the Scarlet Blaze – red wattle – online if possible as I live in Queensland

    Thanking you in advance.

    kind regards
    Youra

  • Written by christina on 11 July 2009:

    this flower is actually planted in everyones front yard by the council in a suburb called mill park lakes in melbournes northern subrubs, we have one in full bloom its very beautiful

  • Written by Sandra Morgan on 26 October 2009:

    We had one of these stunning wattles – we bought it at Beechworth Vic. It was split in half during a storm and I have been back to try and replace it. But the nursery has changed hands and they were unable to help me – can you tell me where to start looking to purchase another beautiful red wattle?

    Thanks
    Sandy

  • Written by Jackie Smith on 22 March 2010:

    If anyone has seeds for the red flowering wattle I would happy to pay for the seeds as well as postage.

    My email is: ogunfarm-km@yahoo.com.au

  • Written by Rebecca Taboada on 4 August 2010:

    I purchased Red Scarlet Wattle from Kuranga Nursery, Mount Evelyn, Victoria. They have plenty of them to sell.

  • Written by Ian on 9 August 2010:

    I planted a red wattle a couple of years ago which I purchased from the Belair State Nusery near Adelaide. It’s now over a metre high and flowering for the first time. It is truly a spectacular speciman to have in your yard.

  • Written by Brenda on 4 September 2010:

    I bought a Scarlet Blaze approx’ 4-5 years ago. It split in a storm over 12 months ago, we bandaged it & so far it is doing well. I feel we should have tip pruned it when it was young as it has grown very scraggly. It is beautiful at the moment(Sep 2010)it has a lot of flowers on it. i love it!

  • Written by Olivia on 8 July 2011:

    Our Scarlet Blaze is in magnificent flower at the moment. It has made a stunning cut flower arrangement in the house and has such a sweet smell!

  • Written by Zoe on 31 August 2011:

    Fabulous pix!

  • Written by Nick on 25 November 2011:

    We had a scarlet blaze around 3 mtrs tall, it was a healthy specimen my wife loved the tree, I thought it was sagging too much so I straightened it up to a stake, it died about a month later.We have looked for a replacememnt with no success.
    I have learnt a lesson.

  • Written by chez and Margo on 24 January 2012:

    We have a 4 x metre red wattle which has been resplendent in flowering over last 2 x years. It had become very straggly and so l too staked it straight…. alas it is now dying. Will it re-shoot next year????

  • Written by Bev on 19 March 2012:

    Mother has small tree that is tip pruned only. My efforts have been struggling, one planted (lasted 5 years) blown over by wind, one in pot for over five years then planted still struggling in ground 18 months later. Tree does not appreciate wind or pruning or any effort to stake. Found my first two in the need of tlc at local hardware plant section, reason could be that it was not known then (9 years ago) and looked too scraggy. Strong winds have now broken top of my remaining tree so I am about to cut away the broken branches on top and try cuttings. Fingers crossed.

  • Written by Adrian Roffey on 5 September 2012:

    I saw Scarlet Blaze flowering today, in a front garden in Flory, a suburb of Canberra. Quite a healthy-looking plant.

  • Written by Frans van Gils on 17 October 2012:

    who can send my a couple of fresh branches of the Scarlet Blaze
    in a small package or envellop and send it by airfreight
    to Holland. I like to propagate it and put it on my balcony

  • Written by Julia Moore on 30 December 2012:

    I bought my Scarlet Blaze today at Bunnings Warehouse Launceston, TAS. I planted it today in Sandy soil.I hope I have some success with it.

  • Written by Julia Moore on 30 December 2012:

    I bought my Scarlet Blaze today at Bunnings Warehouse Launceston TAS. Hopefully it will grow in my sandy soil.

  • Written by Danny on 1 February 2013:

    I have a weeping red wattle (Scarlet Blaze) & the leaves are turning yellow & I’ve tried a few different fertilizers & watering but it does not seem to of made much of a difference. Is it the time of the year,is it over-watering,cold nights etc, or is the tree dying on me. Could someone please help with my concerns as I don’t want to see this tree die as it is such a unique tree….thanks Dan

  • Written by Annie Hayes on 27 March 2013:

    I will pay handsomely for rooted cuttings of this Acacia . I am in the United States .
    contact@anniesannuals.com

  • Written by Jennie on 6 August 2013:

    This plant doesn’t seem to be a huge success. I asked about it at a local nursery, where I was told they’re prone to splitting, and die after about 5 years, which seems to be the experience of quite a few posters here. So I’m hesitating about trying to get one.

    You can buy them online, just Google it up .. and Bunnings apparently stock them, but they’re quite expensive.

  • Written by Pamela on 2 September 2013:

    First flowering of my “red wattle” planted early in 2013. Purchased from Billabong Nursery in Shepparton, Victoria. It is just glorious and much admired.

  • Written by Josephine Goss on 22 February 2014:

    I live in BlackRock Melbourne and I have had two of these temperamental but stunning acasias but they are short lived (4-5 great most)

  • Written by Joanne on 9 September 2014:

    My red wattle is flowering beautiful ,how long lived are they ? It is 7 years old ,& how do you take cuttings , it is about 2 1/2 metres high

  • Written by Joanne on 23 September 2014:

    My name is Joanne , i have a red wattle , i hope to take cuttings , any suggestions about how? It is in flower now , 7 years old , . Has anyone had any luck with striking cuttings or seed , my email is blightyjo@gmail.com

  • Written by Josephine Gods on 2 February 2017:

    I have had one about 5 yrs and it is straggly and pruning did not improve its growth so about to have my gardeners remove it. They are spectacular but short lived and temperamental

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