Plants Named for Body Parts

Picture this guy's paws sticking out of a pot like
they're waving.
Plants from Australia seem to have a certain look to them--like nothing else I've grown before. One I'm partial to is called kangaroo paws. The plant, which is, botanically referred to as Anigozanthus, apparently is so well-known that, when you Google "kangaroo paws" images, you get dozens of pictures of flowers. No kangaroos, let alone kangaroo paws.   

Anyway, kangaroo paws (the plant) are the ultimate low-maintenance pot-dwellers. Of course, in my garden, no plant stands alone, and I combined it with other plants of a similar nature, including Euphorbia 'Diamond Delight'.

Kangaroo paws takes center stage in this mixed container for sun.
Additional companions for the Anigozanthus (pronounced Annie-go-zan-thus) include spiky licorice plant, Verbena Lanai 'Vintage Vodka', and a sun-tolerant Coleus whose name got lost in the shuffle. All are doing very well, with the Anigozanthus holding its own and continuing to send out flower (or paw, if you prefer) stems in a hot and sunny location.

Another plant whose common name involves animals is Orthosiphon aristatus, or cat's whiskers. And looking at the flower makes it obvious. It's botanical name is pronounced just as it's spelled: Ortho SIGH fun - air iss STAT us.  Some cultures make a purportedly therapeutic drink from the plant's leaves and stems; hence the additional moniker of Java tea.

I know it as a pretty plant, its pointed leaves dark green and somewhat shiny, its flowers rather long-lasting and interesting. Its stems also last a couple of days in a vase. Cat's whiskers comes from tropical regions of Asia and is therefore not hardy in the Midwest. It is in the mint family, a clan famous for its bullying behavior, so that's not a bad thing. But if you're looking for an unusual plant that is attractive to hummingbirds and gardeners, this plant can grow to about three feet tall in a summer and sport dozens of flowers.


  1. I have seen both of these plants in our nurseries before. I didn't buy them because I don't have much sun to deal with. I love the idea of having kangaroo paws in the garden. the name conjurs up a pretty picture much like you posted here.

    1. Hi Lisa,
      That's why I like pots so much. They can be placed in any area that has the most of a bad sun situation.