Telopea speciosissima

Bruce Rann, the photographer of today’s images, writes:

“…I live in Sydney Australia. I work as a horticulturist and arborist for Woollahra Council which is just east of the city. A friend put me onto your botany photo of the day website a few months ago and I am enjoying learning more about the plants of the northern
hemisphere.”

“I was recently bush walking with friends in the hills behind Gosford (about one hours drive north of Sydney) and came across some waratahs which I thought you might find interesting. The waratah or Telopea speciosissima is a member of the Proteaceae and is the floral emblem of New South Wales. It occurs in forest situations on sandy soils in coastal New South Wales
and is much loved by Australians but unfortunately very difficult to grow in the garden.”

“The plant flowers terminally on the end of canes arising from a woody lignotuber. The flower heads are up to 15 centimetres (cm) wide with a dense cluster of bright red flowers surrounded by red bracts. Leaves are up to 15 cm long and 4 cm wide, stiff and leathery with toothed margins. Waratahs growing near the coast flower in September and October and in October and November in the blue mountains behind Sydney.”

Ruth adds:

Telopea speciosissima has been the official floral emblem for New South Wales since 1962. Bruce wrote that the canes arise from a lignotuber: a lignotuber is similar to a bulb or tuber in that it is a storage system. The purpose of a lignotuber is to guard against forest fires, animal or insect attack. If the above ground part of the plant were to suffer a trauma such as a forest fire, the lignotuber would allow the plant to re-grow from the stump. The wild type flowers are always red or pink although a cultivated variety, Telopea speciosissima ‘Wirrimbirra White’, produces white flowers.

Thanks again to Bruce for contributing today’s photographs as well as much of the information in today’s write up!

Telopea speciosissima
Telopea speciosissima

10 responses to “Telopea speciosissima”

  1. onlyheaven

    These are absolutely GORGEOUS, Bruce, particularly the first photo. Thank you!!

  2. Sue in Bremerton WA

    I actually gasped when that picture scroll down. Oh my gosh, what a joy to behold. It shall be my background for a few days. This one is so gorgeous!

  3. dlievens

    Another reason to put a trip to Australia on my dream list. I’ve got to see those Proteaceae. Fabulous picture.

  4. Jacqueline Small

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Bruce, thank you very, very much!

  5. Morris Brinkman

    Wow! I was in Australia for 28 days back in 2004, now I know that I have to return again to search out that fantastic species! Thank you!
    morris brinkman

  6. Marty Beltz

    BEAUTIFUL! I want one!

  7. Toni Alexander

    I really appreciate the series of pictures that show not only the closeups but the surrounding area as well. I like the aspect of size, locality, etc.

  8. Carla Fluck

    A friend from Australia came to Idaho, USA, while I was working on a plant study of the eucalyptus genius reproduced in small beads on wire. He put it up to his nose and said the only thing I was missing was the smell. He told me of few more unique flowers and some great birds.
    Your photos of the Waratah flower have impressed me and it will be my next design. Truly beautiful photos and I’m looking forward to seeing one in person soon. Thank you CF

  9. Mary Ann, in Toronto

    Oh my goodness, what beauty! And that COLOUR… there must be a name for that colour…
    some kind of mix of pink, rose, red, with a slight tinge of grey-blue dustiness, maybe? And in the midst of that grey-green/sage-green landscape…
    Sigh…

  10. Adela

    I live in Italy and had never seen this plant before, I foundit would you believe in the supermarket…but what is the best way to grow it in the garden or in a pot and how big does it get…Thanks to anyone who can give me information

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