One of Australia's unique flora are the Waratahs. Belonging to the genus Telopea,
family Proteaceae, these flowers have become increasingly popular as not only floral arrangements,
but also as garden plantings.
Well known as crimson red in colour, they have also appeared in the wild in other colours from
pink to yellow and white. With modern cultivation, these variations have been
selected and bred to be made available for our gardens.
The most popularly
recognised species is the Telopea speciosissima. It is this waratah that was proclaimed in 1962 as the
floral emblem of New South Wales.
Not so well known are the other species of waratah that include Telopea
aspera (New England Waratah), Telopea mongaensis (Monga Waratah),
Telopea oreades (Victorian Waratah) and Telopea truncata (Tasmanian
The waratah has a fairly widespread distribution along the central coast and
adjoining mountains of New South Wales, occurring from the Gibraltar Range,
north of Sydney, to Conjola in the south. They can be seen growing mainly in the
shrub understorey of open forest developed on sandstone and adjoining volcanic
formations. They are seen in the Blue Mountains region, with some wonderful
cultivated examples in the Mount Tomah Botanic Garden. They can also be found
cultivated in the Dandenong Ranges in Victoria and Tasmania.
There is some great information on the
Tolopea from the Australian National Herbarium / Australian National Botanic