A distinctive botanical from the land down under.
by Steven W. Brown, AIFD
Photo courtesy of California
Cut Flower Commission
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
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
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
The top 10 are:
Kangaroo paw (Anigozanthos)
Koala fern (Caustis)
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.
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