Banksia flowers

Banksias

  • Common name Coastal Banksia
  • Botanical Name Banksia integrifolia
  • Family Proteaceae
  • Natural range East coast Australia
  • Mature height 5-15m
  • Form Narrow domed tree/shrub
  • Likes Well-drained sandy soils. Doesn’t mind salt spray.
  • Extra Also available in a prostrate form
  • Where to plant Near your windows to bring in birdlife
  • Known for Tough tree/bird attractant

What’s the Buzz About Banksias?

Imagine a sunny day in your garden. The bird’s melody, the rustling leaves, and amidst it all, the shining stars – your glorious banksias. With their vibrant colours and bold textures, they not only embellish your garden but also encapsulate the true essence of the Australian landscape.

Who Knew Flowering Plants Could Be So Fascinating?

Approximately 170 different species of these captivating plants grace the Australian landscape. They belong to the Proteaceae family, and if you’ve seen a protea, you’d immediately recognize the similarities in their floral arrangement.

More than their striking aesthetics, their ecological role is paramount. They produce abundant nectar from their bright flower heads, serving as a banquet for birds, bats, possums, and various insects. In the circle of life, they’re a critical food source.

What’s the Secret Behind their Blooms?

Their eye-catching floral display is a crowd of hundreds of miniature flowers arranged in pairs. The blooms present a warm hue from cream to yellow, and sometimes red. With time, they mature into woody fruits.

If you’ve ever come across the ‘big bad Banksia men’ in May Gibbs’ beloved ‘Snugglepot and Cuddlepie’, you’d be intrigued to know they were based on mature cones of these plants, adding a cultural twist to their charm.

The Diversity in Form – Tall, Short, and Everything in Between

These plants don’t just vary in colours. From small shrubs to sprawling ground covers to towering trees as high as 15 meters, they come in various shapes and sizes. The larger ones are famed for their rough-barked trunks and twisted branches, with each species promising a splendid floral exhibition.

What’s the Preferred Habitat for Banksias?

They are pretty adaptable and usually prefer sunny locations with well-drained soils. Some species even thrive in swampy conditions. A light trim can keep them looking their best, and although they aren’t very fussy eaters, a low phosphorus fertiliser is a safer bet.

Which Ones Would Suit Your Garden? Let’s See!

Here’s a glimpse of some popular choices and their origin that could lend a quintessential Aussie character to your garden:

Common NameBotanical NameOrigin
Coastal BanksiaBanksia integrifoliaEast Coast Australia
Swamp BanksiaBanksia roburNSW to QLD
Hooker’s BanksiaBanksia hookerianaWestern Australia
Old Man BanksiaBanksia serrataEast Coast Australia
Silver BanksiaBanksia marginataAustralia-wide
Hairpin BanksiaBanksia spinulosaEast Coast Australia
Heath-leaved BanksiaBanksia ericifoliaEast Coast Australia
Firewood BanksiaBanksia menziesiiWestern Australia
Swordfish BanksiaBanksia praemorsaWestern Australia
Candlestick BanksiaBanksia attenuataWestern Australia
Possum BanksiaBanksia baxteriWestern Australia
Matchstick BanksiaBanksia cuneataWestern Australia
Unveiling the Charm of the Native Australian Blooms

Here are a few intriguing facts about these plants:

  1. They share the Proteaceae family with proteas, as is visible in their unique floral structures.
  2. The ‘big bad Banksia men’ from May Gibbs’ ‘Snugglepot and Cuddlepie’ were inspired by their woody fruits.
  3. They serve as a year-round feast for various creatures, being an integral part of the food chain.

Links for Further Reading

  1. Gardening with Banksias
  2. Banksias and their Role in the Ecosystem
  3. Caring for Banksia
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