The Land Down Under boasts flowering plants found nowhere else on earth. Luckily, these plants are so beautiful that they now grow in gardens across the world. Trees, shrubs and perennials that are often grown elsewhere as summer annuals hail from various parts of Australia. The uncommonly shaped flowers of some species are renowned for being long-lasting cut flowers, too.
Aussies call them "wattle" but others may know them as acacia (Acacia pycnantha) or mimosa. These large shrubs or trees bear massive clusters of golden yellow flowers in winter and spring. A wattle is one of the flowers on the Australian Coat of Arms. The cut flower mimosa is usually made from the silver wattle (Acacia dealbata) or Cootamundra wattle (Acacia baileyana).
Oblong clusters of flowers, usually red, grow at the branch tips on most bottlebrush shrubs and trees (Callistemon spp.). Each cluster has tiny five-petaled flowers with long whisker-like stamens. Some species develop flowers that are white, pink, creamy yellow, purple or green.
Iris-like foliage remains evergreen on kangaroo paws (Anigozanthos spp.), a perennial herb. Spring and early summer find upright talks of fuzzy flower tubes, with claw-like lobes that resemble the paws of kangaroos or cats. Flower colors include red, pink, green, orange, yellow, violet and black.
Geraldton Wax Flower
A wispy looking shrub with needle-like leaves, Geraldton wax flower (Chamelaucium uncinatum) displays its honey-scented blossoms in early spring to early summer. The five petals appear on a tiny cup-like center. The plant is tolerant of drought garden conditions.
Sometimes called monkey paw, fan flower (Scaevola aemula) is a tufted evergreen perennial from southern and eastern Australia that is usually grown as a summer annual in hanging baskets and containers. The blue to light purple flowers typically have five petals arranged like a fan or a tiny monkey's hand.
West Australian Christmas Tree
Found only in extreme southwestern Australia, the West Australian Christmas tree (Nuytsia floribunda) usually looks half-dead or reminiscent of a prop for a Halloween set. But in midsummer it becomes glorious with clusters of golden yellow flowers. This tree is rarely grown in gardens because it has a delicate parasitic relationship with other plants. It must attach itself to other plants' roots in order to glean basic nutrients and food to survive in Australia's harsh bush conditions.
Sturt Desert Pea
Able to grow in the hot, arid inland desert, Sturt desert pea (Swainsona formosa) bursts into bloom after the replenishing spring rains return. The floral emblem of South Australia, its sprawls its stems outward as a loose ground cover. The blood red flowers have a base that is dark purple or black, looking like a dark eye among pointy petals. The Darling pea or swan flower (Swainsona galegrifolia) is more dainty looking, with smaller flowers that are red, pink, violet or blue.
Nearly 70 species of banksia trees and shrubs inhabit Australia. Some have zig-zagging leaves, while others are thin and bristle-like. They all bear their flowers in a pine cone-like cluster on branch tips. The banksias' sizes and floral colors are determined by species.
The colorful grevillea (Grevillea robusta) flower lacks petals but has a floral tube with four curled lobes growing in a cluster, making an impressive floral display. These plants may be trees or shrubs, and some are even sprawling ground covers.