Sunday, May 15, 2011

Kangaroo Paws

An unusual botannical from the Land Down Under

     There are few flowers that offer as much vivid color, distinctive form and unusual texture as kangaroo paws. Anigozanthos (pronounced an-ih-go-zan-thos) or more commonly known as “K-Paws” produce clusters of wooly tubular blossoms that do indeed resemble kangaroo toes. The size of the flowers, stem length and color vary depending on the species and cultivar.

      These are truly colorful kangaroo toes, ranging in color from black and green to Christmas red, orange, yellow, burgundy with over 40 varieties now on the market. They can grow to heights of five feet or more allowing them to survive well in the forest where they can thrust their colorful flowers above the undergrowth, advertising nectar to the birds that pollinate them. In addition, K- Paws have a sturdy stem, which is a natural perch and makes them ideal flowers for birds. The Kangaroo Paw's shape and the position of the pollen-bearing anthers enable pollen to deposit on the head of the feeding birds. Pollen is transferred from flower to flower as the honeyeaters or wattlebirds feast. Interestingly enough, these flowers have no fragrance but all flying creatures love them anyway.

      The decorative value of the kangaroo paw lies in the color and texture of these flowers. They grow in clusters and are slender rather than voluminous. For this reason many designers use K-Paws as line material. Some varieties are fuller and more branchy than others, with a structure like hat trees, adding further interest to the long stems and fingerlike flowers.  And here are a few of our favorite varieties.

Assorted Kangaroo Paws

Orange Kangaroo Paw

Orange & Green Kangaroo Paw

Red Kangaroo Paw

Black & Green Kangaroo Paw

Black & Green Kangaroo Paw with Orchids and Fern Leaf

Yellow and Red Kangaroo Paws in landscaping