The Kangaroo Paws are known botanically as the genus Anigozanthos. 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.
Each stem has several flowers which are covered in fine hairs that serve to give the flowers their color. The leaves are generally flat, sometimes rounded, hairy or hairless usually in a fan shape on each shoot. Flower colors include green, red, white, pink, yellow, burgundy and orange and some bi colors like red and yellow and the Red and Green Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos manglesii) who was proclaimed the floral emblem of Western Australia on 9 November 1960.
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.
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.
Some people can develop an allergy to these hairs, so wear gloves and take care if handling regularly. Flowers open at the tip by splitting and peeling back to reveal 6 petals and the small flower. The interior of the flower offers a beautiful contrast to the outer colors and is often green or yellow, so it is worthwhile taking the time to bring these flowers into open flower.
If cared for properly, kangaroo paws will last eight to 25 days in a vased arrangement.
Kangaroo Paws also dry well in the vase gradually, or they can be hung upside down in a well-ventilated area for about two weeks.