The central Waratah image below is from last year’s flowering, but the surrounding images were taken recently to show what the wonderful Waratahs get up to in between blooming.
Many Waratahs have regrown from their underground lignotubers, which allows the plant to produce lots of vegetative growth after bushfire. The lignotuber is a modified stem and can be a metre or more in length and depth, and may weigh up to a quarter of a tonne!
Last year’s flowers have set seed and the elegant seedpods, still ripening, will mature in early winter. When they finally break open, the winged seeds will be released and dispersed by the wind. It’s rare that a Waratah seed germinates and becomes a new plant. The seeds are carbohydrate rich and are therefore an attractive food source for animals, and if they do manage to germinate, they may not establish due to lack of water. When a Waratah does establish from seed, this is an important source of natural variation.
Some older Waratah leaves have taken on rich red and maroon tones due to age and weather damage, and flower buds are forming that, later in the year, will burst into the impressive red Waratah blooms that are loved not only by walkers, but also by native birds, animals and insects.
This article was taken from the CALGAROO June 2023 newsletter of the Parramatta and Hills district group.