Telopea mongaensis

Monga Waratah or Braidwood Waratah

Family: Proteaceae

A shrub or small tree, growing to 6 metres high, spreading to 4 metres wide. 

It is native to NSW only, growing virtually on the borders of the south-coast / southern tablelands and central coast / tablelands subdivisions; as far south as between Braidwood and Nelligen (Monga National Park), northwards to around Fitzroy Falls (with one outlying record at Wentworth Falls, Blue Mountains.  

It is usually found at higher altitudes on the edges of temperate rainforest or in wet sclerophyll forest, along riparian corridors (creeks and streams) as well as mountain slopes.

Telopea spp. have simple and alternate leaves, although unevenly distributed in a spiral around the stems. In this species, they are linear to narrow-obovate, to about 18 cm long and about 2 cm wide, with an obtuse or acute apex, with margins entire or slightly sinuate-lobed, slightly leathery, green in colour.

Telopea spp. have inflorescences referred to as “condensed heads” which are actually made up of racemes of pair flowers, fused together in a conflorescence. The head is surrounded by an involucre (overlapping whorls) of enlarged leafy-bracts. Each flower is a typical Proteaceae flower with a perianth of 4 tepals, 4 anthers and 1 carpel. In this species, the flowers – each about 5 cm long – occur in a more open-cluster at the ends of the erect stems; with the cluster-head to 100 mm in diameter and consisting of up to 65 flowers; red to red-pink in colour. The leafy bracts occur at the base of the inflorescence, but are much less showy compared to T. speciosissima, growing to about 4 cm long – green or pink. Flowering occurs in spring.

The fruit of Telopea is a follicle. In this species, they are up to 7 cm long. Seeds have one wing.

In the garden

In the garden, T. mongaensis seems to be the reasonably adaptable to cultivation and grows in soils with good drainage and ample moisture in part-shaded or sunny positions. It is frost tolerant and attracts birds to the garden.

It is reported to be hardy and best planted on an acid soil. Fertiliser in the form of compost or other composted organic manures can be added. 

Several commercially available cultivars that are hybrid forms with T. speciosissima have been developed.


Propagation is best from seed which should germinate within 4 to 6 weeks if it is viable. No special pre-treatment is necessary but seedlings are susceptible to damping off (a fungal disease) and need to be kept under observation. Cuttings can be slow to strike.

Other information

Telopea is an endemic genus of five species of large shrubs or small trees. There are currently four recognised species in NSW with one of these, T. oreades, occurring in Victoria. One other species, T. truncata, occurs only in Tasmania. 

Telopea ‘Braidwood Brilliant’ is a hybrid between this species and the showy Telopea speciosissima that was first grown in 1962 and registered with the Australian Cultivar Registration Authority (ACRA) in 1974.

Telopea spp. usually cope with fire well and regenerate from the lignotuber as well as any seedbank. A fire event usually promotes good flowering displays, usually two to three years after fire.

Telopea – from Greek tilopos (τηλωπος) meaning “seen from afar” or “one who sees at a great distance” – a reference to the conspicuous flowers which are conspicuous at any distance. The genus was first described by Robert Brown in 1810 from the type species Telopea speciosissima.

mongaensis – Latin – in reference to Monga, the general region where a lot of plants are found, including Monga National Park (south-west of Braidwood) in the southern tablelands / south coast region of NSW. Telopea mongaensis was first described by Australian botanist Edwin Cheel in 1947. 

This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild. 

NSW Flora online (PlantNET) Telopea mongaensis profile page:    https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Telopea~mongaensis

Australian Native Plants Society (Australia) Telopea mongaensis profile page https://anpsa.org.au/plant_profiles/telopea-mongaensis/

Wikipedia – Telopea mongaensis profile page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telopea_mongaensis

Gardening with Angus – Telopea mongaensis profile page https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/telopea-mongaensis-braidwood-waratah/

Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke