Description: Shrubs or rarely small trees, usually multistemmed from a lignotuber. Adult leaves simple, margins entire or toothed; intermediate leaves simple with margins sinuate- to pinnate-lobed. Conflorescences terminal, capitate, subtended by red to pink involucral bracts, not aggregated, pseudo-racemose; flowers borne in pairs.
Flowers zygomorphic, usually red, bird-pollinated. Perianth strongly incurved in bud; tepals cohering in a split tube after anthesis [separating in T. truncata]. Hypogynous glands fused into a crescentic to horseshoe-shaped nectary. Ovary stipitate; pollen presenter strongly oblique.
Follicle woody; seeds winged.
Distribution and occurrence: World: 5 species, endemic Australia. Australia: N.S.W., Vic., Tas.
Waratahs are widely cultivated as ornamentals and for the cut flower trade. In some instances white- and yellow-flowered forms have been selected for cultivation.
Text by M. D. Crisp & P. H. Weston
| ||Key to the species|| |
|1||Leaves mostly with toothed margins, veins prominently raised on upper surface; involucral bracts conspicuous||2|
|Leaves not toothed, veins not or slightly raised on upper surface; involucral bracts inconspicuous||3|
|2||Adult leaves narrow-obovate to narrow-spathulate, margins with 0–3 pairs of teeth in lower half, glabrous or rarely lower surface moderately rusty-hairy on lower surface (usually with less than 35 hairs per mm2); south from the Watagan Mtns||Telopea speciosissima|
|Adult leaves elliptic to more or less obovate, margins usually with 3–11 pairs of teeth in lower half, lower surface moderately to densely rusty-hairy (usually with more than 35 hairs per mm2); confined to Gibraltar Ra|
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|3||Adult leaves mostly 25–60 mm wide, surfaces minutely granulate when dried||Telopea oreades|
|Adult leaves mostly 10–20 mm wide, surfaces quite smooth between veins when dried|
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