AskDefine | Define waratah

Dictionary Definition



1 straggling shrub with narrow leaves and conspicuous red flowers in dense globular racemes [syn: Telopea speciosissima]
2 tall shrub of eastern Australia having oblanceolate to obovate leaves and red flowers in compact racemes [syn: Telopea Oreades]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /ˈwɔrəˌtɐː/ (Australia)


From Dharuk warada.


  1. Any of several species of plants in the genus Telopea, native to southeastern Australia.


  • Troy, Jakelin (1994). “The Sydney Language”, Macquarie Aboriginal Words. Sydney: Macquarie Library, 61–62.

Extensive Definition

Waratah (Telopea) is a genus of five species of large shrubs or small trees in the Proteaceae, native to southeastern Australia, from New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. They have spirally arranged leaves 10-20 cm long and 2-3 cm broad with entire or serrated margins, and large, dense flowerheads 6-15 cm diameter with numerous small red flowers and a basal ring of red bracts. The name waratah comes from the Eora Aboriginal people, the original inhabitants of the Sydney area.


Within the Proteaceae, their closest relatives appear to be the genera Alloxylon (Tree Waratahs), Oreocallis and Embothrium, a group of generally terminal red-flowering plants which skirt the southern edges of the Pacific Rim. Together they make up the subtribe Embothriinae within the family.


The five species all occupy distinct ranges with minimal or no overlap; listed from north to south:
  • Telopea aspera Crisp & P.H.Weston - Gibraltar Range Waratah or New England Waratah. Northeast New South Wales.
  • Telopea speciosissima (Sm.) R.Br. - New South Wales Waratah. East New South Wales.
  • Telopea mongaensis Cheel - Braidwood Waratah or Monga Waratah. Southeast New South Wales.
  • Telopea oreades F.Muell. - Gippsland Waratah or Victorian Waratah. Southern Victoria.
  • Telopea truncata (Labill.) R.Br. - Tasmanian Waratah. Tasmania.
The New South Wales Waratah is native to areas in the Sydney geological basin, Central and South Coast districts, and in the Blue Mountains; it grows to about 4 m tall. It typically grows in sandy loam soils along ridges and plateaus. This waratah is endemic to New South Wales, but has now spread due to its popularity, to Victoria and even Tasmania.


Waratahs are popular, though somewhat tricky to grow, ornamental plants in gardens in Australia; several hybrids and cultivars have been developed, including some with creamy-white and pink flowers as well as the natural red. White forms of Telopea speciossisima are named Telopea "Wirrimbirra White" and T. "Shady Lady White", while T. "Shady Lady Pink" and T. "Shady Lady Red" are actually hybrids between Telopea speciosissima and Telopea oreades.

Popular Culture

The botanical journal Telopea is named after the genus, as is the western Sydney suburb of Telopea.
Telopea speciosissima the floral emblem of the state of New South Wales and several organisations in the state, including the New South Wales Waratahs rugby team and Grace Bros. (now Myer).


  • Flora of Australia: Volume 16: Eleagnaceae, Proteaceae 1
waratah in French: telopea
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