As always I have had an about face when it comes to my taste in plants. After being shown a less common Australian natives I'm now beginning to become more interested in them. As suggested by my plant identification teacher I'm going to join the Australian Native Plant Society (ANSPA) http://asgap.org.au/ to further my knowledge. Hopefully I'll be propagating some less common native species at home in the future. Having just said that this blog entry is on a very common Australian native plant :)
Common name: Kangaroo paw
Botanical name: Anigozanthos flavidus
This very popular and easily identified Australian native plant is commonly known as Kangaroo paw. This particular species is called Anigozanthos flavidus and is located in Fairfield, Victoria, Australia. Its flower stalks can reach about 2 metres high. Cutting the dead leaves down to their base and dead heading the spent flower stalks keeps these plants looking their best so I wouldn't say that they are a maintenance free plant. They are a clumping perennial plant but they tend to only perform at their flowering peak for 3 to 5 years after which they decline. The flowers are used as cut flowers and they are grown commercially for such purposes in several different countries. Propagation can be done by seed or by dividing the clump. Digging them up to divide is a challenge as the fibrous root ball needs to be complete dug around and under before the plant can be lifted. They are sometimes described as drought tolerant but they do in fact need some water in the hotter months in Australia. They like full sun and well drained soil. While their are some frost hardy cultivars Kangaroo paws are mostly frost sensitive plants. I do have some growing up in the colder climate of Macedon but they do get frost damaged in the cool seasons. I don't really mind as they always come booming back into action come spring. They are indiginous to Western Australia.
Below are fully mature clumps of Anigozanthos flavidus in full bloom with the sun shining on them during a 30+ degree Celcius day. They would look better with the dead leaves removed.
A close up of the flower which some say resembles a Kangaroo paw.