Australia boasts more than 1,200 species of Acacia, which are commonly known as wattle trees. The golden wattle is Australia’s floral emblem, and is widespread around Canberra, in southern New South Wales, in the Adelaide Hills and Victoria. The flowering season is spring and summer, and Wattle Day is celebrated on 1 September each year.
With 2,800 species of eucalypts (gum trees), these are the trees most commonly associated with Australia. Eucalypts are found in many areas, from the silver and red snow gums of the Australian Alps to the ancient river red gums in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges. The Blue Mountains is home to the world’s most diverse range of eucalypt species and in fact, the Blue Mountains gets its name from the blue haze believed to be created from the oil-bearing trees. Koalas feed exclusively on certain species of eucalypts.
The Proteaceae family of flowering plants, including banksias, grevilleas and waratahs, are among Australia’s most popular natives. A key characteristic of the Proteaceae family is that flower heads are made up of a number of small flowers. The waratah is widespread in the national parks along the New South Wales coastline.
Known locally as paperbarks, tea trees or honey myrtles, Melaleuca is a genus of around 170 species in the Myrtle family, of which the majority are endemic to Australia. They are usually found along watercourses or the edges of swamps, and can grow in a variety of soil types. Melaleuca is notable for its essential oils, which are marketed as tea tree oil.
Wildflowers turn the arid and savanna grassland areas of Australia into carpets of colour when in season. From June until September, more than 12,000 species of wildflower can be seen blooming across Western Australia. From late August to mid-October, more than 100 varieties of wildflower can be seen on Kangaroo Island in South Australia; many are unique to the island. During mid-summer the plains around Mount Kosciuszko erupt in masses of yellow billy buttons, pink trigger plants and silver and white snow daisies. Wildflowers are a protected species in Australia, so please don’t be tempted to pick them.
The Haemodoraceae family comprises more than 100 species, including the iconic Kangaroo Paw. Eleven species of Kangaroo Paw are indigenous to the southwest of Western Australia and can be spotted along creeks, forests and swamps. Kangaroo Paw flowers between August and October and ranges from yellow and green to red, pink, orange or brown.
Commonly referred to as ‘emu bushes’, the Eremophila is a class of more than 200 species, which are endemic to Australia. These plants can generally be spotted in semi-arid and arid regions, and are largely found in Western Australia. Eremophila are known by their colourful shrubs, and produce fleshy fruits, which are often eaten by animals and birds.