On a guided hike in #Australia my tour guide revealed the answer to a question I have had every time I see Australia in the Olympics: “why are their national colors green and gold when those colors aren’t in their flag?” Because these are the colors of their ubiquitous #GoldenWattle #flower. Sure enough, these shades are exact. (at Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia.)

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Get to Know the Australian Floral Emblems - Part I

Australia’s flora is as extensive and diverse as the continent they grow in. About 24,000 species of native plants grow in Australia. No wonder many Europeans, including William Dampier and British explorer Captain James Cook, showed interest in Australian plants. It is just proper that special flowers be chosen to represent the country’s history, ideals, and its people.  

Aside from having the Golden Wattle as Australia’s national flower, there were eight other lucky species of distinct flowering plants chosen to become floral emblems of specific geographic areas in Australia. Let’s get to know these flowers better.

Australia – Golden Wattle   

Proclaimed as Australia’s national flower in 1988, the golden wattle or Acacia pycnantha is a shrub native to southeastern Australia. Instead of having the common leaf shape, the golden wattle has shiny, dark green, flattened and widened leaf stalks that hang down from the branches. Its fragrant, golden flowers bloom from July to November, usually late winter to early summer. The golden wattle has a relatively short lifespan of about 15 to 30 years.  This shrub is commonly found in the understorey of open eucalypt forests.

When in full bloom, this flower represents Australia’s colors – green and gold.

September 1 is National Wattle Day. You can see the branches of the wattle depicted in the Australian armorial bearings. The designs of the insignia of the Order of Australia are also based on wattle flowers. Many Australian stamps likewise carry the wattle.

Australian Capital Territory – Royal Bluebell

On May 26, 1982, the Minister for the Capital Territory Hon. Michael Hodgman announced the Royal Bluebell as Australian Capital Territory’s floral emblem.

Wahlenbergia gloriosa  or the Royal Bluebell grows mainly in South America, New Zealand and Australia. This perennial herb has oblong leaves,  violet blue flowers of about 2-3 cm in diameter, and long slender stems. You can find the royal blueblee in the sub-alpine woodland of Australian Capital Territoryu, in southeastern New South Wales and Victoria.  Wahlenbergia gloriosa grows on well-drained soils, in sunny or semi-shaded spots, and in shallow planters or hanging baskets.

New South Wales - Waratah

Waratah (Telopea speciosissima) is a large, long-lived shrub endemic to NSW. It was proclaimed as NSW’s floral emblem on 24 October 1962.

This species features a woody base, a remarkably large crimson flowerhead with hundreds of individual flowers, and dark green leaves about 5 to 10 inches in length. The Waratah lives long and flowers prolifically during September to November. This species is conserved in Dharug, Brisbane Water, and Macquarie Pass National Parks and is cultivated north of Sydney and in the Dandenong Ranges in Victoria. The Waratah is also cultivated in California, Israel, Hawaii, and New Zealand.

Majority of government administrative bodies and community groups in NSW incorporate Waratah in their insignia. New South Wales’ rugby team is called the Waratahs. September 26 is Waratah Day.

Northern Territory - Sturt’s Desert Rose

This woody shrub was discovered by Charles Sturt in 1844-1845.Sturt’s Desert Rose was proclaimed as the floral emblem of the Northern Territory on July 12, 1961. Since 1978, this flower has been incorporated into various official symbols of the region.

Sturt’s Desert Rose or Gossypium sturtianum is also known as Darling River Rose, Australian Cotton and Cotton Rosebush. This flower is characterized by round, dark green leaves and pale pink-purple-maroon petals with dark red base that forms a contrasting centre. This is a drought-tolerant shrub that grows best in sandy soils, gorges, rocky slopes and along dry creek beds. You can find Sturt’s Desert Rose year round but they peak in late winter.

The Northern Territory flag, which was raised for the first time on 01 July 1978, carries a stylised form of Sturt’s Desert Rose with seven petals.  

These are just four of the nine flower species Australia holds dear to its heart. Stay tuned for the part 2 to know more about the floral emblems of Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, Victoria and Tasmania.

Finally got down all ruddy and did some #gardening on a fine breezy #Wednesday 💚🐞🌿🍃🌻 You can’t imagine how tiring it is…sore back, legs, neck, numb fingers, but happy lungs. I got all the fresh air I need at least 😄👌 #newgarden #florals #englishbox #lillypilly #glenwaverley #goldenwattle #orangejessamine #citrustrees #readyforlunch

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