Native flowers are an essential component of Australia's cultural history and play a key role in maintaining its distinctive ecosystems.
There are around 21,000 species of native flowering plants in Australia, and festivals and gardens all over the country honour them. They frequently adorn flags, coins, banknotes, stamps, and sports jerseys, and they are given to dignitaries and athletes who have achieved greatness.
Today, let’s take a look at the floral emblems of Australia and its eight states and territories.
Australia --- Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha)
As the national floral emblem, the stunning Golden Wattles are found throughout south-eastern Australia, particularly in the areas surrounding the ACT, southern NSW, the Adelaide Hills, and much of Victoria. Depending on the location, Golden Wattles have different variations in plant sizes and leaf width. However, the large yellow balls of flowers and thin, curved leaves make Golden Wattles stand out in every floral arrangement.
In flower symbolism, Golden Wattle represents unity, remembrance, and reflection. Moreover, since Golden Wattles start blooming in late winter and mostly in early Spring, they also become a symbol of new growth, renewal and fresh beginnings. In case you don't know, the first day of September every year is celebrated as National Wattle Day, recognised by the federal government, for hope and the sense of pride as Australians by wearing the wattle blossom and planting wattles.
Victoria --- Common Heath (Epacris impressa)
(image by Heidi Wills)
Following a 1951 agreement between government representatives and various local stakeholders, Victoria became the first state in Australia to introduce its official floral emblem, the common heath (typically the pink heath). Governor Dallas Brooks issued the Victoria floral emblem proclamation on November 11, 1958.
The common heath is a thin, upright shrub that reaches a height of approximately 1 m. Its stems are lined with many tubular flowers that range in colour from light white to deep crimson. Although they are present practically all year, these lovely bell-shaped beauties are most common in the winter with a short-lived flowering period. The common heath could be easily found in coastal regions around Victoria as well as adjoining foothills from Clyde River, New South Wales all the way to the Mt Lofty Ranges in South Australia. Small birds frequently sit among the short, spiked leaves so they can eat the nectar the flowers generate.
New South Wales --- Waratah (Telopea speciosissima)
As one of the most iconic flowers in Australia, the waratah was dubbed "the most magnificent plant which the prolific soil of New Holland gives" by botanist Sir James Smith in 1793, and then it should come as no surprise that the state of NSW and numerous NSW organisations have chosen it as their symbol flower.
Found along the NSW central coast and throughout the adjoining mountains, particularly around Sydney and in the Blue Mountains, the waratah grows as a tall shrub that can reach a height of 4 metres. Its huge inflorescences are composed of numerous little flowers that are all individually encircled by crimson bracts that resemble petals. A small fun fact about waratah is that it lost the battle of the national floral emblem just because it only occurred across the east coast of Australia.
In flower language, waratah is a symbol of beauty and magnificence with its large, red blooms. Moreover, it could be a great gift for people in the recovery phase as the waratah can even survive destruction from fires.
Australian Capital Territory --- royal bluebell (Wahlenbergia gloriosa)
The Hon. Michael Hodgman, the Minister for the Capital Territory, designated the Royal Bluebell as the floral emblem of the Australian Capital Territory on May 26, 1982. This little perennial alpine herb is found in the Australian Alps growing near to the ground in open regions, rocky outcrops, and woods. On the tips of long, slender stems, its beautiful blue/purple flowers, which reach a width of around 3 cm, draw insect pollinators. It is frequently confused with the more prevalent, spreading tall bluebell (Wahlenbergia stricta).
Even though it is a legally protected species that cannot be taken from the wild, the Royal Bluebell is a charming plant in cultivation. It is possible to propagate plants via seeds, cuttings, or divided roots. It can be grown as a ground cover, in shallow pots or hanging baskets, in sunny or partially shaded locations in cool climates.
Throughout Australia, the Royal Bluebell flower is well-known to represent growth and progress.
Queensland --- Cooktown orchid (Dendrobium bigibbum)
In 1959 as Queensland was getting ready to celebrate its centennial, the purple Cooktown Orchid was the undisputed champion among the poll of 15 species when the Courier-Mail conducted a vote to determine the state floral emblem. Despite the flowers' diminutive size, the vibrant range of lilac colours makes them stand out.
Named after the northern Queensland town of the same name, the Cooktown Orchid occurs naturally in northern Queensland, from Johnston River to Iron Range. Even though it’s widely cultivated and exported commercially, this species has become scarce or extinct in wild areas of its distribution as a result of habitat modification and uncontrolled collecting by some commercial plant collectors, notably in the southern part.
As an epiphytic or lithophytic orchid in the family Orchidaceae, this purple orchid could be used to represent respect, admiration, and dignity.
South Australia --- Sturt's desert pea (Clianthus formosus)
Adopted as the floral emblem of South Australia on 23 November 1961, the Sturt’s desert pea truly belongs to the pea family, which accounts for its pea-shaped centre and name. This unique flower is recognised for its vibrant red petals that grow from its dark, glossy centre. Its petals also feature white and dark pink hues.
The sturt’s desert pea is confined to Australia, where it occurs in all mainland States except Victoria. It is infamously difficult to grow outside of its native arid climate. According to the legislation, Sturt's desert pea is protected in South Australia. The flowers and plants must not be collected on private land without the written consent of the owner. Collection on Crown land is illegal without a permit. There are, however, plants that can grow anywhere in Australia and can be grafted onto less finicky rootstock. Full sun, perfect drainage and protection from snails are essential for them to grow.
Named the “flower of blood” by the Aboriginal People, it is considered a symbol of the blood spilt during the invasion and the following years of European settlement. Moreover, it also symbolises a similar narrative to the ANZAC poppy for remembrance in Australia.
Western Australia --- red-and-green kangaroo paw (Anigozanthos manglesii)
Red and Green Kangaroo Paw was proclaimed the floral emblem of Western Australia on 9 November 1960. As one of about twelve species of the genus Anigozanthos which is restricted to the southwest of Western Australia, this gorgeous flower is one of the most coveted native flowers of Australia with its tube-shaped and velvety petals.
Fresh Kangaroo Paw flowers keep well in water, and simple line arrangements make excellent use of their vibrant colours and unique structure. It is frequently sold in bouquets of mixed Western Australian wildflowers and holds its colours well as a dried flower. The collecting of flowers to provide both fresh and dried material for local use and export had a significant impact on the wild populations of this species, although supply currently comes primarily from cultivated plants with license.
Because of its novel appearance, the kangaroo paw is a symbol of uniqueness and individuality in flower language to celebrate a unique love or friendship.
Tasmania --- Tasmanian blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus)
Proclaimed as the floral emblem of Tasmania in 1962, the delicate cream flower of the Tasmanian Blue Gum is shaped like caps (‘kalypto’ means ‘to cover’) and provides a good source of nectar for bees and the resultant honey is flavourful and rich. These beauties can be spotted in southeast Tasmanian forests.
Tasmanian Blue Gum is a tall, straight tree that, in ideal circumstances, may reach heights of 70 metres and a trunk diameter of 2 metres. At the base of the tree, the rough, deeply furrowed, grey bark is still present, but beyond this point, it is shed in strips, leaving the branches and the longer portion of the trunk with smooth bark. The juvenile leaves' waxy blue-green colour is where the plant gets its common name.
Being so tall, the flowers are rarely available for home decoration because they are typically out of reach.
Northern Territory --- Sturt's desert rose (Gossypium sturtianum)
The Commonwealth Government designated the Sturt's Desert Rose as the floral representation of the Northern Territory in 1961, and it is still used today on the NT flag. They are very little shrubs with small, mauve flowers that are arranged around crimson centres, as well as dark green foliage. Sturt's Desert Rose has also been known as Darling River Rose, Cotton Rosebush and Australian Cotton as it actually belongs to the genus Gossypium, which includes commercial cotton.
In the southern portion of the Northern Territory, north-eastern South Australia, western Queensland, western New South Wales, and portions of northern Western Australia, Sturt's Desert Rose grows naturally on stony or rocky slopes or in dry stream beds. They will begin to blossom as you read this because their peak flowering period is actually in the late winter.
In flower language, this beauty could deliver the messages such as “decision only you can make” and “adaption is critical to success”. Moreover, it is also a symbol of National Sorry Day to express forgiveness and guilt.
Due to the uniqueness of the environmental situation, Australia has become one of the most important countries for global biodiversity. With over 24,000 species of native plants, the native flowers have become one of the most prized assets in Australia. Therefore, if you want to explore the native flora world, visit our native flowers collection and take advantage of our same-day plant and flower delivery service across Melbourne, Geelong and Mornington Peninsula to get it today. If you need help finding the plants or flowers that will best suit any occasion, chat with one of our friendly team members using our online chat feature.