Red and Green Kangaroo Paw
Image: The Red and Green Kangaroo Paw
The striking flower of the Red and Green Kangaroo Paw, found naturally only in Western Australia, is the State's floral emblem.
Announcing the choice in November 1960, the then Premier of Western Australia, David Brand, said: ".... the Kangaroo Paw is so outstanding that it was the logical choice. It has grace and beauty, striking colour and distinctive outline - and it grows naturally only in Western Australia".
It was considered that the emblem would heighten tourist interest in the State's wildflowers and was recommended by Premier Brand on the advice of the State's Tourist Development Authority.
The Red and Green Kangaroo Paw is one of eleven species of Anigozanthos. The name Anigozanthos, meaning "irregular flower" came from botanist J.J.H. de Labillardiere who, as part of a French scientific expedition, sheltered near Esperance, on the south coast of Western Australia, in 1792 and was the first European to collect the Kangaroo Paw. The common name comes from the appearance of the unopened cluster of flowers that resembles the forepaw of a kangaroo.
From the early days of the Swan River Colony, botanists were intrigued by the unique plants of Western Australia. With encouragement from government naturalist James Drummond, settlers sent seeds and specimens back to England. Prominent among these was the Red and Green Kangaroo Paw, which was introduced to England in 1833 and described in 1835 by a British botanist, David Don.
Several members of the Mangles family (of whom, Ellen, the wife of the colony's first Governor, Captain James Stirling, was one) were plant enthusiasts and promoted the cultivation of Swan River seeds in England. The family was honoured in an earlier name for this species - the Mangles Kangaroo Paw.
The Red and Green Kangaroo Paw is the best known and most famous of all the Kangaroo Paws. It is found in many areas of remnant bushland near Perth and is common in the sandy coastal plains of the south-west of the State.
This stunning plant has long flattened leaves at its base and brilliant red and green flowers that appear in spring and summer in fan-like clusters at the end of red felted stems. The sturdy metre high stems provide a ready-made perch for honeyeaters or wattlebirds, which are often seen clinging precariously to the stem, drinking nectar from each of the flowers in turn and helping in pollination.
The Red and Green Kangaroo Paw was proclaimed Western Australia's floral emblem on 9 November 1960 and was subsequently incorporated into the State Coat of Arms.
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