The Waratah is one of Australia’s most iconic flowers, and while it comes in many different forms, Telopea speciosissima, more commonly known as the New South Wales Waratah, is the most well-recognizable.
The Waratah - One of Australia's Most Iconic Flowers
With its bulbous, crimson flowerhead, green, razored leaves, and long stem, it’s possible the Waratah flower has adorned more Australian paraphernalia than any other flower: from stamps, all the way through to tea towels and belts.
As the official floral emblem of the State of New South Wales, the flower has a special significance for those living within the state. But it is not only its symbolic attributes that attract people to it: the Waratah is actually a diverse group of flowers that are part of the Proteaceae family.
The name 'Waratah' comes from the Eora people, the original inhabitants of the Sydney area.
Meaning Behind the Name of This Flower
‘Waratah’ means flowering red tree or seen from afar. It has two well-known meanings which speak of the flower as a symbol of strength, courage, healing, and support, especially support of a lost spouse or love. Indigenous people's use of the flower has been written to say that by ingesting the early morning dew and flower essence, one will be given courage, strength, and help aid illness.
Red, and Inflorescent Flowers
The Waratah has bright red, inflorescent flowers - that is, it looks like one flower, but in fact, it is made up of many smaller flowers, a characteristic common to the Proteaceae family of plants. The flowers can range from 6-15 cm in diameter, depending upon the variety, and are native to the southeastern regions of Australia, including New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania. They usually flower from October to November, although this varies slightly from one variety to the next.
The beautiful Waratah flower is not only the NSW floral emblem, it's one of the best-known Australian native plants. And there's also an anemone that is named after the beautiful red Waratah flower; this small, brown-red anemone is the most noticeable species of anemone on Sydney's rocky shores.
Waratah in Floral Designs
The waratah makes a fantastic cut flower as it is long-lasting, has a lovely long, straight stem, and a large, eye-catching bloom. The waratah also has a very little scent so it makes a good choice for those who suffer from allergies. With its crimson red flowers and lush, dark green foliage, it is the perfect flower to include in this season's floral designs.
Today, bush waratahs are protected, but at one time, this is where most cut waratahs found in the flower markets of Australia came from. This is because these flowers are notoriously difficult to cultivate, and it is only in the last few years that the cultivation process has become more successful on a commercial level.
This family consists of many beautiful and strikingly formed cut flowers, such as the best-known variety called 'King Protea', and, of course, the Blushing Bride, which you can read more about here: "A Blushing Bride on Your Wedding", and the Protea Barbigera, which you can read all about here: "The Strikingly Beautiful and Fluffy Protea Barbigera".