Australia is home to a unique diversity of native plants. The most common types of flora have adapted to arid and extreme conditions. More than 70 percent of Australia is considered desert, so the abundance and diversity of plant life is unexpected. Popular native wildflowers such as the sturt's desert pea and kangaroo paw appear both in natural and cultivated habitats, and trees such as waddy wood and sandlewood outline the arid landscape.
This native but endangered tree is found in the desert regions of Australia. It grows up to 50 feet tall and boasts gray-green foliage which droops low to the ground with maturity. Waddy wood is relatively easy to cultivate but slow growing. It is particularly vulnerable to fire, grazing livestock and rabbits. Its wood was often used as timber by both Aboriginal and European farmers.
Sturt's Desert Pea
Sturt's desert pea is a distinctive wildflower celebrated for its brilliant blood red color. As a low-growing perennial, it can tolerate both light frost as well as scorching desert temperatures. The stalks bear clumps of bright red flowers which emerge from black, pea-shaped balls. Sturt's desert pea has a long root system in order to trap water from deep beneath the surface soil.
Kangaroo paw is another highly popular native wildflower found in many regions of Australia. At best, it can be considered a short-lived perennial. The stalks and flowers bear fine colored hairs, giving the kangaroo paw its distinct appearance. Several varieties populate the region ranging in shades of red, orange, yellow, apricot and green. It grows best in well-drained soil and requires full sun for optimal growth. Over the winter, kangaroo paw will go dormant.
Sandhill wattle is a native Australian shrub recognized by its dome-shape and yellow or orange flowers during the spring. It is found on sand hills and serves as an important soil stabilizer, which helps prevent destructive wind and soil erosion. Sandhill wattle is very common throughout Australia and germinates with ease. It typically reaches heights between 3 and 13 feet.
Sandlewood can vary in appearance, looking like small, bushy shrub or a miniature tree. It typically reaches heights up to 13 feet. Although sandlewood has its own elaborate tap root system, it also parasites surrounding vegetation, stealing nutrients and moisture from other plant's roots. Tiny flowers form on this native shrub with brown fruit. In the past, sandlewood was often exported by European settlers for its fragrant wood oils.