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Australia's National and State Flowers

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Northern Territory: Sturt's Desert Rose
Sturt's desert rose ... official flower of the Northern Territory

Sturt's desert rose ... official flower of the Northern Territory

© Tourism NT

Sturt's desert rose (also known as Sturt desert rose), Gossypium sturtianum, is the floral emblem of Australia's Northern Territory.

The specific and varietal names, sturtianum, honor Australian explorer Captain Charles Sturt (1795-1869) who first collected the species "in the beds of the creeks on the Barrier Range" during his journey to central Australia in 1844-45. Gossypium belongs to the hibiscus family, Malvaceae, which is widespread in tropical and temperate regions of the world.

It is related to the cotton plant which also belongs to the Malvaceae family.

According to the Australian National Botanic Gardens, Sturt's desert rose forms a relatively compact shrub about a metre high (but may reach 2 metres in cultivation) with dark green round-to-oval leaves usually with black stipples. The flowers have mauve petals about 5 centimetres long with red bases froming a contrasting centre.

Sturt's desert rose has also been known as Darling River rose, cotton rosebush and Australian cotton.

It can be found on stony or rocky slopes, or in dry creek beds, around Alice Springs and in the southern part of the Northern Territory, northeastern South Australia, western Queensland, western New South Wales and parts of northern Western Australia.

(Source: Australian National Botanic Gardens.)

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