Anigozanthos is one of those plants I’ve always been ambivalent about. Called kangaroo paw for its fuzzy, five-fingered flowers, it’s used so often in drought tolerant landscapes that growing tired of it is understandable. However, it’s important to remember that the genus Anigozanthis contains many different colors beyond the traditional red and yellow. So when I began placing plant orders for the nursery, I made sure to stock up on unique varieties that would keep our customers interested. Since then, I haven’t been able to keep them on the shelves. Here’s a look at some of the unique colors available.
Surprisingly, many of the colored kangaroo paws are naturally occurring. The most common are A. rufus and A. pulcherrimus, the red and golden ‘roo paws. Less common in the United States are A. manglesii, a stunning specimen with two-tone red and green blooms that is an emblem of Western Australia, and A. viridis, aptly named for its bright green coloration.
Because kangaroo paws hybridize readily with one another, there are also a number of interesting cultivars, such as the Velvet® range from Ozbreed. These gorgeous plants have flowers whose base is one color and whose ‘fuzz’ is another, giving them the appearance of rich velvet. There are cultivars that come in pink, like the dwarf variety ‘Pink Joey,’ or in striking white, like ‘Bush Diamond’ or ‘Bush Pearl.’ There even appears to be a black kangaroo paw, although this plant is actually Macropidia fuliginosa, the only member of the monotypic genus Macropidia, whose name comes from the Latin for “sooty kangaroo.” It is related to Anigozanthos but with a slightly different habit, is not as hardy and therefore not as widely cultivated.
As with most plants we tire of after extended exposure, often times exploring new varieties is just the thing to shake a jaded plant lover out of their ‘roo-paw rut.