Colours and shapes
Anigozanthos is such a surreal housemate that you need to look twice at it before you’ll believe your eyes. Branched leafless stems emerge from a rosette of spiky narrow green leaves.
At the top of the stems there are quirky red, yellow, orange or red cylinders. Each one is unique and the cylinders have tiny hairs on them to give a velvety appearance. At the end of each cylinder a flower fans out six petals.
The name Anigozanthos comes from the Greek words 'anises' (uneven) and ‘anthos’ (flower). The symbolism is determined by the shape of the plant – it represents individuality and uniqueness. The red and green variant is the floral emblem of Western Australia.
Anigozanthos or kangaroo paw originates from Australia. The flower resembles the marsupial’s front paws. In the wild the plant grows primarily in south-west Australia around Shark Bay and Mount Baker. Anigozanthos can reach a height of two metres there, but the cultivated version keeps the wonder from Down Under down to a more compact and manageable size. Twelve species of kangaroo paw have been discovered since 1792.
The cultivated version arrived in Europe in around 1803 in the form of seeds which had travelled to France with the Nicolas Baudin expedition. They were germinated in the Empress Josephine’s famous greenhouses and garden in Malmaison. It’s an easy houseplant which is virtually maintenance-free and flowers almost non-stop.