This is part of my Australian State and Territory emblem series where I nature journal the floral, bird, mammal and marine emblems of Australia. Watch the YouTube episode here: https://youtu.be/IiF5hZYQi1U
Scientific name: Anigozanthos manglesii
The floral emblem for Western Australia is Mangle's kangaroo paw. It's a striking flower that resembles an upturned kangaroo paw but stands out by its vibrant red and green colours. Other species in Anigozanthos have intriguing colours such as pink, blue, orange and even black (Macropidia genus). They can be single or bi-coloured like the red-and-green one.
Only growing to about a metre high with a fanning base of broad leaves, kangaroo paws prefer heath or sandy soils. They grow naturally only in the southwest of Western Australia. As an endemic plant, they are waterwise and therefore a great choice for Australian gardens and attractive to pollinators too.
I'm lucky that just behind where I grew up is Badgerup Lake, a swamp that has seen successful rehabilitation efforts in the last decade so that it's possible to wander around and enjoy the beautiful surrounding bush. Towards the end of August, the kangaroo paws start flowering and it's a delight to spot them so close to home. This is probably the easiest emblem for me to find and nature journal!
Drawing their shape is considerably more difficult- they certainly make excellent subjects to practice blind contour drawings. Doing so does help the eye to make sense of its alien geometry.
I notice, I wonder, it reminds me of...
After the first quick blind contour drawings, I describe the texture of the kangaroo paws as:
"soft and fuzzy, but not like a peach, bit more rough."
This is due to the hairs on the flower buds giving it a velvety appearance. The colours are eye-catching too:
"Bright scarlet knuckles, stem" and "bright green fingers (like the leaves). Lighter lime green stamen."
I also included small paint swatches and counted how many flowers (stems) were in this impressive stand (17!) and then became engrossed by the branching pattern on one of them - they remind me of a plait and a ginger plant.
Looking at them from different angles to 'work them out' was what I spent the most time on. I'd planned to do a more complete drawing on the right page however I ran out of time so settled for a quick gestural sketch instead. Many months later I was able to use this information and the photos I'd taken to make a watercolour painting.
A time-lapse video of the painting can be watched on my YouTube channel.
- They are a member of the bloodwort family Haemodoraceae
- Anigozanthos grow from an underground rhizome and prefer well-drained (sandy or gravelly) soil and full sun
- Endemic to southwest Western Australia, the tubular flowers provide nectar to honey-eaters
- Some of the species in anigozanthos (presumably the smaller, compact ones) are typically named 'catspaws' but still resemble the kangaroo paw
- There are high amounts of starch in the tuberous roots so were eaten by the Noongar people
- A lot of research has gone into cultivating different colours such as the recently released blue 'Masquerade' variant and determining how genetics influence the colour
- The botanical extract of Anigozanthos flavidus (yellow kangaroo paw) appears to have collagen remodelling properties due to its high flavonoid and polyphenol content and is therefore being investigated for its anti-wrinkle properties in the cosmetics industry
If you would like to have the line art from the painting, it's available through my Ko-fi shop. It's for personal use such as colouring in or printing before painting.
Kangaroo Paw Line Art
High resolution digital PDF
Discussion & Questions
Please share your thoughts below! Members can comment directly on posts.
- What is your favourite flower and why?
- Do you have an interesting observation or fact to share about kangaroo paws? Or a question you would like to know the answer to?
- Have you nature journaled a kangaroo paw or your floral emblem? I’d love to see it! Tag me @kims.art.adventures with #NJWM_floralemblem