Fire stimulation and survival tools
Waratahs are a ‘resprouting’ species and the main method of regeneration in the wild is sprouting from a massive underground structure called a lignotuber. This structure is a modified stem and can be a metre or more in length and depth, and possibly weigh up to a quarter of a tonne. It’s a marvellous adaptation to fire.
In the wild a number of Waratah stems arise in a patch, which may look random. But it is actually in quite a pronounced radial pattern. These are the stems arising from the lignotuber. Not only will the fires stimulate new flowering stems, nutrients are released to the soil which sustain this new growth. So, they truly will be arising from the ashes.
But fire can still be destructive for Waratahs, especially if it is to hot or too frequent. Some areas north and south of Sydney and down into Victoria were burnt so badly last summer that there are some concerns for the Waratah species Telopea aspera, Telopea oreades and Telopea mongaensis. These will be monitored over coming years to assess the extent of damage.
It is unlikely that too many flowers will be seen in this first flowering season between August and October for the NSW Waratah (Telopea speciosissima). But in the next few years, we can anticipate a great many to be seen.