The Waratah (Telopea speciosissima) is the floral emblem of New South Wales since 1962, a large(10-12cm across) and spectacular scarlet flower growing in the bush in clumps of tall stems.
It is an Australian-endemic genus of five species of large shrubs or small trees and it is a bush native to the southeastern parts of Australia (New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. Growing naturally in patches of sandy loam on ridges and plateaus in the Sydney Geological basin, the Central and South Coast districts and the Blue Mountains of New South Wales.
Aborigines used seed of the Waratah as a source of food and nectar-rich flowers for the preparation of sweet beverages, the branches were used for basket making in the past.
It is a large, long-lived shrub or tree that generally grows to 3 m in height. After fires, which are common in its natural habitat, a Waratah can regenerate from a lignotuber – a woody swelling of its stem that lies partly or wholly under the ground.