Telopea speciosissima    


With a fiery red head of densely packed flowers and large petal-like bracts, supported proudly on a few upright 2-3m long branches, the Waratah of Aboriginal dreaming stories, is the real attention seeker in eucalypt forests.

Most stunning is the wonderful symmetry of the thick red styles which kneel side by side facing the apex of a flower head that may be up to 15cm wide.

The name, ‘Telo-pea’, which means ‘seen from afar’ is most apt. After flowering 10-20 winged seeds are pouched in long woody follicles which mature from green to grey, and hang below the new red-tinged foliage like drying bananas.

The leaves too are distinctive, varying according to growing conditions. Always long, often to 16cm, some are tough with uneven toothed margins and obvious veins, while others are more softly waxy.

Family: Proteaceae

Kids Activity Trail

  • Do you know what plant is the floral emblem for NSW?
  • Have you ever seen the beautiful seedpods of a Waratah? They look like a bunch of drying bananas
  • Did you know these plants can be propagated by seeds and cuttings?
  • The flowers of this plant are attractive to both pollinating honey eating birds and insects

Image Credit: GABRIELLA HEGYES Telopea speciosissima (Waratah) 2000, carved sandstone, 102 x 52 x 158 cm, Wentworth Falls Lake Sculpture Project, Blue Mountains City Art Collection