Paws for thought

There are three species of kangaroo paw growing naturally in our bushland.

The first to flower is the one commonly called cat’s paw, Anigozanthos humilis. It has red and yellow flowers that rarely reach as high as 50 centimetres. The next to flower is one that everybody recognises as Western Australia’s floral emblem, the red and green kangaroo paw, Anigozanthos manglesii. The last one to get going is the green kangaroo paw, Anigozanthos viridis.

All of the kangaroo paws, no matter which one, are pollinated by nectar feeding birds. The birds hold onto the strong flower stems and push their heads deep inside the flower. In doing so the pollen held at the tip of the flower is brushed onto the bird’s head or back. When the bird visits the next flower the pollen is transferred and the flower is pollinated.

Kangaroo paws have suffered in our bushland due to people picking the flowers. Not only is this illegal, in many instances the plant is killed in the process.

The best way to enjoy the flowers is to visit the bushland and see them in their natural habitat. Watching the birds visit the flowers adds to the experience. Leaving the flowers to die off and develop seeds ensures that there will always be kangaroo paws in the bushland.