Anigozanthos (Kangaroo paw)

Anigozanthos Kangaroo paw Photo courtesy of California Cut Flower Commission
Kangaroo paw
Photo courtesy of
Cut Flower Commission

Anigozanthos (Kangaroo paw)

A distinctive botanical from the land down under.

by Steven W. Brown, AIFD

1 FUZZY FLOWERS. Anigozanthos (pronounced an-ih-go-ZAN-thos), commonly known as kangaroo paws, produce flattened clusters of woolly, tubular blossoms that are 1 inch to
3 inches long. They have reflexed lips and resemble kangaroo toes. The size of the florets, stem length and color vary depending on species and cultivar.

2 FROM AUSSIE LAND. Anigozanthos are natives of Australia, where they inhabit moist areas in forests of southwestern Australia. Anigozanthos manglesii (the red-and-green species) was adopted as the floral emblem of Western Australia and incorporated into the armorial bearings of the state.

3 THE BLOODWORTS. Kangaroo paws are members of the Haemo-doraceae, or bloodwort, family. The color and form of kangaroo paws make them among the most rewarding Australian native plants. Close relatives include Conostylis, Lachnanthes and Xiphidium.

4 SEASONS OF THE WORLD. In their native areas, these velvety flowers appear most prolifically from October to December. Some varieties of kangaroo paws are available year-round from domestic and world markets. In addition to Australia and the United States, they are grown commercially in Colombia, Africa, Israel and Japan.

5 RAINBOW OF COLORS. Anigozanthos varieties are available in bicolored species including red/green, yellow/green, purple/ green, yellow/orange and red/black.

6 SHOP CAREFULLY. When making selections, make sure that the first one or two flowers per stem are open. If flowers are too tight, they might not open completely. Watch for signs of blossom drop, rot or mold. Avoid bunches that appear flaccid or show signs of browning petals.

7 EASY CARE. Remove packaging immediately upon arrival, and remove all leaves that would fall below the water line. Trim the stems with a sharp knife or pruner, removing at least 1 inch from the end of each stem. Dip or place the stems into a hydration solution, then place them into a clean vase or bucket filled with properly prepared nutrient solution. Kangaroo paws can be stored in a floral cooler at 36 F to 38 F. Provide good air circulation, high humidity and light.

8 CUSTOMER EDUCATION. Advise consumers to recut the stems and change the vase water frequently. Keep these flowers away from direct sunlight. If cared for properly, kangaroo paws will last eight to 25 days and will dry well in the vase gradually, or they can be hung upside down in a well-ventilated area for about two weeks.

9 IN THE TOP 10. Australian flowers account for about 1 percent of all floral exports in the world. Kangaroo paws are the second-most commercially grown and exported crops from Australia.

The top 10 are:
Waxflower (Chamelaucium)
Kangaroo paw (Anigozanthos)
Koala fern (Caustis)
Eucalytpus foliage

10 THE GREEKS SPEAK. The genus name Anigozanthos is derived from the Greek “anises,” meaning “unequal” or “oblique,” and “anthos,” meaning “flower,” in reference to the division of the floral extremities into six unequal parts.

Some information provided by Roy Borodkin of Brannan Street Wholesale Florist, Inc., San Francisco Flower Market.

Steven W. Brown, AIFD, is a professor and department chair of horticulture and floristry at City College of San Francisco with 26 years of consulting and educational experience in the floral industry.