The floral emblem of the Shire is the Scarlet Featherflower (Vericordia grandis) and was adopted by the Irwin Shire Council in 1975.
Scarlet Featherflower is not unique to the Shire, but its range is restricted to the northern sandplain between Cataby and Mingenew. It is a brilliant feature of the Arrowsmith and Yardanogo moors in the south of the Shire and integral to the local kwongan vegetation characterised by dramatic and colourful spring wildflower displays. It grows from a lignotuber that sprouts after fire, and individual plants can live up to 100 years. It is found in yellow, grey or white sands, with its stronghold in the Shire probably the Yardanogo Nature Reserve. The main threat to the species is loss of habitat through land clearance.
The origin of the botanical name, Verticordia, is not clear but may refer to Venus, the Roman goddess of love, as their leaf shapes often resemble tiny hearts. Grandis means large or grand, referring to the size of the flowers.
The type specimen was collected by James Drummond in 1849/50, a “splendid” flower, “the most beautiful of Australian plants”, “seen at its greatest perfection” on the sandplain north of the Diamond of the Desert spring near Green Head (Perth Gazette, 23 April 1852).
Scarlet Featherflower is a low straggling shrub to about 1-1.5 metres in height. Each flower consists of two united, pointed bracts that enclose each end of a bud, and persist as a collar when the red feathery flower opens. The axillary flowers are about 25mm across with 25mm styles when open, and are pollinated by birds such as Little Brown and New Holland Honeyeaters and Western Spinebills.
Verticordia grandis is grown in commercial cultivation for cut flowers, and as an ornamental garden plant, often as hardwood cuttings grafted onto root stock such as Geraldton Wax (Chamelaucium uncinatum).
Elizabeth A. (Berndt) George; Margaret Pieroni (illustrator), Verticordia: the turner of hearts. UWA Press, Crawley, 2002: 402–403.
Alex George; Elizabeth A. (Berndt) George; Margaret Pieroni (illustrator) “465. Verticordia grandis”. Curtis’s Botanical Magazine. May 2003, Vol 20 No 2: 74–79(6).
Rica Erickson, AS George, NG Marchant & MK Morcombe, Flowers and Plants of Western Australia, Reed, Frenchs Forest 1983: 102
Wildflowers of the Western State: 147 West Australian Species Illustrated, Rolsh, Albany 1994: 13