The Banksia is one of Australia’s iconic flowering plants. Popularised as the ‘bad Banksia Man’ in May Gibbs’ stories of ‘Snugglepot and Cuddlepie’, they are easily recognisable with their characteristic flower spikes and the fruiting cones.
The variety and popularity of the banksia have seen species grown outside their normal range in other parts of Australia, especially in the many botanic gardens and reserves. The following Oak-leaved Banksia (Banksia quercifolia) occurs naturally in the south coast of Western Australia.
Uniquely Australian, the Banksia are magnificent relics from the once super-continent of Gondwana. Named after the botanist Joseph Banks, the genus Banksia is a member of the family Proteaceae family and was first collected by Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander at Sydney in 1770. There were several species of Banksia kept in England in heated glasshouses due to their cold sensitivity.1
Banksias are found growing in a variety of habitats, depending on the species, from the sclerophyll forest, (occasionally) rainforest, shrubland and arid zones. As well as still found growing in their natural habitats, they have also been established in gardens and parks around the country. The plant can range from a prostrate woody shrub to trees growing up to 30 metres high.
A great plant that also attract a variety of wildlife, especially in the bush where they form an important part of the food chain. The banksia flowers are an important part of nature’s food chain, as they are heavy producers of nectar, that are important for a variety of animals, insects and invertebrates. With the modern techniques of cultivation, they have also become an important part of the nursery and cut flower industry.
- Scientific classification
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Clade: Tracheophytes
- Clade: Angiosperms
- Clade: Eudicots
- Order: Proteales
- Family: Proteaceae
- Subfamily: Grevilleoideae
- Tribe: Banksieae
- Genus: Banksia
- Species: About 170 species
Footnote & References
- Banksia, Seed Notes for Western Australia – No. 8, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Government of Western Australia, https://www.dpaw.wa.gov.au/images/documents/about/science/pubs/seednotes/sn08_banksia.pdf
- Banksia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banksia (last visited Dec. 8, 2021)