Monday, May 04, 2009

Waratah, Waratah Everywhere

But Not A Drop To Drink

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON



If you’re looking for a cut flower that looks amazing in a vase and lasts for a very long time, you can’t go past a waratah. This Australian native plant is actually the floral symbol of New South Wales, our neighbouring state.

The conical flower heads are huge – these ones were just average size, about 15 centimetres (six inches) across, although they can grow much larger. They can be grown from seeds and cuttings alike and I was once told that they show re-growth remarkably quickly after a bushfire.

I’ve only ever seen red waratahs, but a little diligent research has shown me that there are other colours too – mainly pink or white. One of the things that has struck me about waratahs is that, like camellias, they have distinctive leaves that add a lot of character to any floral arrangement.

Of course, the leaves of the waratah are very different from those of the camellia. The latter are small but high in sheen, adding a lot of character to a vase. But waratah leaves are much tougher and longer and surround each bloom like a protective circle, with each leaf about 15 centimetres long.

During the 2006 Commonwealth Games, staged here in my hometown of Melbourne, waratahs took pride of place in the bouquets that were handed to each medal winner. So if you watched the Games on TV and wondered what the huge flowers were, now you know!

Visit Luiz Santilli Jr for the home of
Today's Flowers.

41 comments:

Hilary said...

Oh that's a lovely flower. I think they'd look wonderful in pink. I wonder how they would do in Canadian soil.

Breeze said...

What a beautiful flower! I wonder if they can be found here somewhere in a nursury! Beautiful. I'll let you know if I find one in Canada!

Breeze

" Couleurs et Emotions" said...

des couleurs fantastiques, magnifique photo
Véronique

AirmanMom said...

As always, David...I am in awe how you capture the ordinary, so very extrordinarily!
Thank you!
~AM

Maggie May said...

I learn something every time I come here!
The waratah looks a lovely flower but I am avoiding ANYTHING that has a rat in the middle of it!

lakeviewer said...

Now we know! They are gorgeous. I bet they need heat to bloom, right? That leaves my garden out. I can do delphinium and sweet peas.

Ananda girl said...

What an unusual flower. Gorgeous, as is your photograph.

Valerie said...

Goodness, is that a real flower? How fantastic is that... My stepdaughter just emigrated to Australia, I must tell her about the waratah.

aims said...

I'm wondering if the spike on the leaves is sharp David.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

They are fabulous...and the red will always be my favorite...I love red flowers, and these are magnificent! Aussies know how to do everything right...and obviously their horticulture ranks with the very best! ~Janine

Tranquility said...

Oh wow - these are gorgeous!

ChrisCandJonJ said...

That flower is stunning!I wonder if it would grow in Florida?

Kirti said...

I love learning something new everyday on your blog. Or at least getting a good laugh. =)

Indrani said...

Beautiful!
I have not seen these around here.

quilly said...

I said to OC, "Looks like a Protea." He said, "It is."

Doreen said...

beautiful! unique. I don't think I have ever seen one before. thanks for the intro!

Eddie Bluelights said...

Beautiful photo of a waratah. I had never heard of this - wonder if I could get some here! Like the long lasting property as well.

Pagan Sphinx said...

I have never seen a flower quite like that. It's really dense.

Jacob said...

They sure as heck beat our geraniums!

ROSIDAH said...

Wonderful waratah :)! I can see why they were chosen to add the beauty at the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Have a great week, David.

joan said...

What a beautiful flower! I am always amazed at the different flowers that grow around the world!

The Girl From Cherry Blossom Street said...

Whara what wa?
Mmm...looks like red hot chili peppers! My favorite.
Thanks for the heads up.
Just in case I find myself in Australia, I'd know not to mistake it for red peppers.
Pretty. I've never seen them before.

VALKYRIEN said...

When participating in this meme, I get to see and learn about a lot of flowers I have never seen or heard about - and this is another one! It is simply gorgeous!

i beati said...

Just stunning Sandy

Denise said...

The Waratah is a very exotic flower, I like this color very much. Thank you for sharing and have a great week.

Pacey said...

Beautiful and looks exotic. First time I've seen this of this kind.

Leora said...

Not a flower that I have ever seen! Thanks for teaching us about the flora in your part of the world.

Thumbelina said...

What a lovely flower - a huge bloom though! Very vibrant colours.
The colours are just starting to poke through at our end of the globe.

I played too this week.:)

Elizabeth Bradley said...

This flower is new to me as well. Love the picture.

Amanda Guthrie said...

Very interesting flower, I have never seen anything quite like it.

♥ bfs~"Mimi" ♥ said...

Absolutely beautimous!!!!! :-)

Kathleen said...

Stunning . . . clever clever title! I'm not sure I would have dared pronounce the name without it.

A native plant, eh? No wonder they thrive.

Camellias remind me of gardenias which remind me of magnolias which remind of me of peonies, all of which remind me of some point in my life.

I never realized that till I saw your photo. Thanks you

A Brit in Tennessee said...

Stunning flower David! Huge blooms...
Everything is popping into color here in Tennessee, I love this time of year..
Thanks for sharing !

Regina said...

You captured it beautifully..

Grace and Bradley said...

Really beautiful flower, so colorful and such a good size. Never seen it before, thanks for sharing.

Tulip said...

very pretty flowers, very unique. great entry for this post.

Regina said...

I love the color. I haven't seen a flower like this.

Daryl said...

They sort of look like Mums ... sort of ..lovely in any case

Minie said...

beautiful vibrant red flowers.

sunnymama said...

Wow, that is an amazing flower!

Just a Plane Ride Away said...

What an interesting looking plant! It's new to me. Very pretty!!