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Anigozanthos flavidus DC 1807 (red variety)
Pronounced: an-ih-go-ZAN-thoss FLAY-vid-uss
(Haemodoraceae — the bloodwort or kangaroo paw family)
common names: Tall Kangaroo Paw, Kangaroo Paw, Evergreen Kangaroo Paw
The derivation of Anigozanthos is uncertain, but it probably comes from the Greek ανισος (anisos), unequal, and ανθος (anthos), a flower, referring to the unequal perianth lobes of the flowers; flavidus is Latin for ‘yellow’, the colour of the common form of the flower.
The plant occurs naturally only in the extreme south-west corner of Western Australia, from Augusta east to Two Peoples Bay, and north to Waroona. It is found on roadsides and river banks, in swamps, shallow water, and also in eucalypt forests, where it will tolerate light shade. It has now become naturalized in parts of NSW.
This perennial herb has evergreen leaves up to 100 cm long and 2 cm wide, and grows in clumps that can be up to 2 m across. It has a rhizome underground, which can be up to 5 cm in diameter, and that enables the plant to recover from fire and drought.
The inflorescence is produced on a flowering scape from the centre of the leaf fan. A single plant can produce 10 or a dozen stems, and as many as 350 flowers. The flowers are normally green and yellow, but may also be shades red, pink, orange or brown. Many cultivars and hybrids have been developed, for this has become a very popular garden plant, not only in eastern Australia, but also in the USA. The flowers are covered in velvety hairs, which may irritate the skin of some people.
The flowers of this plant are bird pollinated. As a bird pushes its beak into the flower to reach the nectar, it brushes its head against the stamens and collects pollen there, for transfer to the next flower it visits. The increased bird activity generated by Kangaroo Paw is one of the reasons it has become so popular in our gardens.
The plant can be propagated from seed, or by division of the clump. Division is usually done after flowering is over, and it the best way to be sure of propagating desirable colour forms. Hybrid Kangaroo Paws are propagated commercially by tissue culture.
The flowers are much used in both fresh and dried arrangements.
Photographs taken in a Nelly Bay garden 2013
Page last updated 14th July 2018