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On one of my first field trips as a young student, searching in sweltering September heat for banksia trees in the bush around Sydney, my eye was caught by a flash of remarkable crimson. Trudging over the red dust, we saw the beautiful waratah flower.
The cone-shaped flower sat upon a green leaf throne, sepals facing upward towards the heavens. The sun lit the red petals just right, and I felt a sense of awe for the flower emblem of New South Wales.
Flower - Head - Leaves - Stem - Meters
The rounded flower head and the green razored leaves are iconic. The long stem that can grow up to 4 meters tall allows it to stand above the other vegetation.
There are five species of waratah flowers, although the species chosen for NSW's emblem, Telopea speciosissima, is simply known as the New South Wales waratah.
Australia - Coast - Mountains - Gibraltar - North
These grow across southeastern Australia along the central coast and up the mountains from the Gibraltar range north of Sydney to Conjola in the south.
This flower thrives in the shrub understory of open forest and survives despite sandstone soils and volcanic rock. Delicate, the flowers need lots of rainfall. There is also a rare white morph called "Wirrimbira white." This form was found in the Robertson, NSW near the Kangaloon water catchment.
Warratahs - Lignotuber - Root - System - Energy
Warratahs have a lignotuber in their root system that allows them to store energy and nutrients. They can regenerate within two years after a wildfire destroys the main flower.
It flowers from September to November, though flowering is highly variable and is sensitive to the environment. The flower is pollinated by birds that feed on its sweet nectar. The plant releases brown leathery pods with large, winged seeds, which germinate readily—making it a popular garden ornament.
Waratah - Flower - Symbol - Australiana - Stamps
The waratah flower is a cultural symbol, adorning Australiana ranging from stamps to the state flag of New South Wales. Because...
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