Chosen as the State emblem of New South Wales in 1962, the Waratah - Telopea speciosissima - is one of the best known flowers native to NSW. With its stately long stemmed, symmetrical blooms and waxy leaves, it is one of the more spectacular flowering plants seen in the native scrub. Commonly found with crimson flowers, it has also been cultivated successfully with creamy white petals. White waratahs are a rarity in the bush.
The Waratah is a stout, erect shrub which may grow to 4 metres. The dark green leathery leaves, 13-25 cm in length, are arranged alternately and tend to be coarsely toothed. The flowers are grouped in rounded heads 7 to 10 cm in diameter surrounded by crimson bracts, about 5 to 7 cm long. It flowers from September to November and nectar-seeking birds act as pollinators. Large winged seeds are released when the brown leathery pods split along one side.