The French botanist, de Labillardiere, first collected the kangaroo paw, Anigozanthos rufus, near Esperance in 1792. The generic name Anigozanthos is probably derived from the Greek 'anises', meaning 'unequal' or 'oblique', and 'anthos', meaning 'flower', in reference to the division of the floral extremities into six unequal parts. The red-green A. manglesii is the state emblem of Western Australia.
These flowers are mainly pollinated by birds. The shape of the flowers and the position of the pollen-bearing anthers is a feature which allows pollen to be deposited on the head of feeding birds. This pollen is transferred from flower to flower as the birds feed. Different species usually deposit pollen on different areas of the birds' head. This means that pollen from one species is unlikely to be deposited in the flowers of another species. For more information visit the Australian National Botanic Gardens website