Our Bushland Diary

Monday, August 31, 2009

kangaroo paws

We know Ellenbrook is about to burst into flower. Anigozanthos are putting out big stalks ready to open into the familiar "kangaroo paw" flowers. Here's one of our local kangaroo paws; Mangles Kangaroo Paw, also known as Red and Green Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos manglesii).

It's the floral emblem of Western Australia. The photo below was taken in an area that had been cleared - the seeds were in the sandy soil and the plants popped up later. In bushland, kangaroo paws are sometimes difficult to find because the kangaroos love to eat them!

We have two other species of kangaroo paw in Ellenbrook. One is quite small, and has yellow and orange flowers. The common name is Catspaw (Anigozanthos humilis). Both the Catspaw and Mangles' Kangaroo Paw have flat strappy leaves. The photo below is a very large flowery specimen of the Catspaw. (Normally they are tiny, especially if the kangaroos have been chewing on the leaves.)

The third species is the Green Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos viridis). The green of the flower is a very unusual chrome-green colour, quite unexpected. The leaves are shaped like long tubes.

Kangaroo Paws are in the family Haemodoraceae, the "blood root" family. Many have red juice in the underground parts of the plant.

Here's another plant in the same family, and if you look closely at the flowers you will see some resemblance to kangaroo paws; strappy leaves, soft fluffy flowers on stalks -
Grey Cottonheads (Conostylis candicans).

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