There are eleven species, all native to the south-west of Western Australia.
They grow in a variety of soils. They have strap-like, slightly fleshy leaves growing from an underground rhizome, from 12-15 cm to 1 m, or more. Colour and form varies according to species and growing conditions.
They flower from spring to summer.
Velvety tubular flowers are produced on upright stems. They are excellent as cut flowers as they remain fresh for weeks, and are also valued as dried flowers.
The flowers are crowded near the ends of a usually branched, erect inflorescence. The height of flower spikes varies from about 30 cm to 3 m high. The expanded tip with its pointed "claws" gives the flowers of some species a striking resemblance to a kangaroo's paw.
The flowers are pollinated by birds that are attracted by the flowers. The flower stalks provide a perch for visiting birds.
The Western Australian floral emblem is the Red and Green Kangaroo Paw, A. manglesii. It is a short-lived species. It forms a clump of grey-green leaves and bears stunning bright red and green flowers on red woolly stems up to 1 m tall.
It flowers from August to November.
It is named after Robert Mangles, an Englishman in whose garden in Berkshire it was raised in 1833 from seeds sent by the Governor of the Swan River Colony, Western Australia.
Anigozanthos grow best in well-drained soils in a sunny position. It is an excellent plant for the rockery or containers. They are herbaceous perennials, commonly propagated from seed. Fresh seed can be collected from spent flowers, but some species are more difficult to grow than others from seed. The seed should be sown freely in seed-raising mix during spring and summer.
Clumps may also be divided in autumn to early summer. After division, they should be replanted in pots until established. Well-composted organic matter should be added to the soil. In general, well-composted organic matter will improve growth.
The plants usually flower after a year.
Do not overwater during winter as most species are dormant at this time, some die back completely.
A major disease known as 'Ink Disease' turns the leaves black. It may be better to remove clumps of affected plants and plant new ones. To prevent the spread of disease, badly affected leaves should be removed and burnt. In extreme cases, the application of the fungicide, copper oxychloride, may help.
Special attention should be paid to snail and slug attack.
A. viridis (Green Kangaroo Paw) 30-50 cm; with striking emerald-green flowers on stems up to 1 m; is less affected by damp than most species, but needs full sun.
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