Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Another Word...

So, today in my reading I learned yet another word. This time I did not wait long but just tried immediately to find out what it meant.
The word is “waratah”.
I had never heard it before, until I read this passage where an elegant award dinner was in full swing, and each table was awash in a “garish display of flowers.”
Then Claire Messud [in her terrific novel, The Emporer’s Children, really, you should read this book] says, “This arrangement – comprised of birds of paradise, waratahs and kangaroo paw (and this, mysteriously, in the brief season of peonies) – was repeated in smaller configurations….”
It was bugging me, so I looked it up online.

Obviously it is some sort of flower, but it’s always good to look things up when you have no clue what they really are.
The waratah ends up being some kind of weird flower from Australia, as shown randomly all over the place here.
There are four kinds of waratah, one of which grows into a tree.
These shrubs and trees have tough, dark green leaves, often toothed edged. The waratah is really hundreds of individual flowers crowded together into a dense head. The bright crimson petals are really modified leaves called bracts. They flower from September to November in rocky and sandy soils from the Blue Mountains of New South Wales to the north in Queensland.
The waratah is the floral emblem of New South Wales.
There you go.
Now you know.
As do I.
This word, however, is going to be far more difficult to somehow work into my short story that takes place on the high seas….. unless there is some stowaway lunatic botanist onboard…. yes, yes.
Gotta go. The muse is calling!


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4 comments:

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Does that mean you know what birds of paradise and kangaroo paws look like?!!!

:--)

cipriano said...

There's always a SmartyPants like you in the crowd!
No.... umm..... I have no clue what these other things are? Are they flowers, too?
My specialty is the high seas!

kingmonkey said...

I've seen birds of paradise (the flower, not the bird) in Costa Rica. They actually look kind og freaky, like green and pink repeating crab-claws.

I've never seen a kangaroo's paw, though (the flower, not the limb).

cipriano said...

This is going to be SOOOOOO wildly off-topic [of horticulture and stuff] but, Kingmonkey, your comment, actually this part of it [I've never seen a kangaroo's paw, though (the flower, not the limb).] reminded me a of a cartoon I saw about 800 years ago, literally, when I was a kid.
It had two horses meeting, and the one horse says to the other horse, "I can't remember your mane, but your pace is familiar."[I should go to sleep, huh?]