The Sturt’s Desert Rose (Gossypium sturtianum var. sturtianum) is named in honour of Charles Sturt, who collected it during his journey to Central Australia in 1844-45.

An arid zone plant, the Sturt’s Desert Rose is found growing on stony or rocky ground or in dry creek beds. It can be found in Central Australia, extending into the outback region of South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland.

A bushy woody shrub that can grow up to 2 metres in height, when growing in poor soil it can be open and straggly. The leaves are oval shaped and can vary in shades of green.

The Sturt’s Desert Rose was proclaimed the floral emblem of the Northern Territory on the 12th July, 1961 by the then Commonwealth Government responsible for the administration of the Territory.

It is also found on the Northern Territory flag in stylised form, although there are two additional petals added to the flag, together with the seven pointed black star in the centre of the flower, representing the six Australian States and the Northern Territory.

Whilst the Sturt’s Desert Rose has a number of common names, it is because the other names reflect that the plant is actually a member of the cotton family and not a rose. The Sturt’s Desert Rose belongs to the family Malvaceae, genus Gossypium, that includes commercial cotton. Originally called Cienfugosia gossypioides, the Sturt’s Desert Rose is now known as Gossypium sturtianum var. sturtianum.

Common name
Darling River Rose, Cotton Rosebush and Australian Cotton. Sometimes spelt as Sturt Desert Rose.

More information can be found in our Flora section on the Sturt’s Desert Rose (Gossypium sturtianum var. sturtianum).

  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Clade: Tracheophytes
  • Clade: Angiosperms
  • Clade: Eudicots
  • Clade: Rosids
  • Order: Malvales
  • Family: Malvaceae
  • Genus: Gossypium
  • Species: G. sturtianum
  • Binomial name: Gossypium sturtianum

Footnote & References

  1. Gossypium sturtianum, (last visited Nov. 30, 2021).