Australian Banksia

Banksia is a beautiful plant native to Australia.

With 170 species and all but one endemic to Australia, they are some of the most iconic Australian plants.


With their distinctive flower pods and spikes they are easy to distinguish, and some of them are large and spectacularly colourful. They got their name from the English botanist Sir Joseph Banks, who collected the first specimens and took them back to England after the first expedition of James Cook in 1770.
 
Banksia Flower, Australian National Botanical Gardens
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Flower and Pod
The most distinctive features of these beautiful plants are their flowers and pods. The flower spike actually consists of hundreds or even thousands small flowers that produce a huge amount of nectar. Young spikes are colourful yellow, red, pink, orange or violet, depending on species, while the older spikes get dull in colour and in some species loose the flower parts with aging. The fruit is a woody follicle that consists of valves that enclose seeds. In some species the follicle splits as soon as it’s mature, but in most species the follicles only open after bushfires.

Scarlet Banksia (Banksia Coccinea)
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Where to See Different Species
Other characteristics, such as leaves, and the size of the plant, vary between different species. Some can be small scrubs while others can grow up to 30 metres high. They commonly grow on coastal areas and not too far inland, as they cannot do with less than 200mm of rainfall. There are therefore distinct geographical regions where these plants occur in Australia. The most famous with about 90% of all species is Western Australia. This is also where you find the most colourful versions like reds bright oranges. The other region, eastern Australia, has less species and they tend to be mostly yellowish in colour. The third region, northern Australia, contains only one species – the only species not endemic to Australia as it is also found in the tropical New Guinea.

A Close View of a Banksia Flower
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Eastern Australia
Silver Banksia (B Marginata) is a small tree or shrub with grey bark, many spreading branches, and pale yellow, relatively small flowers. Marginata is found on King Island and Flinders Island, almost everywhere in Tasmania and Victoria, southern New South Wales and eastern South Australia. There is also one little pocket of it in the south western WA. Heath Banksia (B ericifolia) is a large shrub or small tree with narrow leaves and long orange-red flower. It is found in pockets along the coasts of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. Coast Banksia (B integrifolia) is a medium sized tree with pale yellow flowers and wedge-shaped leaves, which is found along the whole eastern coast of Australia from Townsville in north and Melbourne in south. It is also found in a few pockets in western Victoria, and on King Island and Flinders Island north of Tasmania. Old Man Banksia (B Serrata) is a tall shrub or medium-sized tree with spongy bark, leaves with toothed margins, and a relatively small creamy or silvery grey flower. It is found along the eastern coast of Australia from Fraser Island in north and Wilsons Promontory National Park in south. It is also found on Flinders Island, and in western Tasmania.

Red Swamp Banksia
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Western Australia
Slender Banksia (B attenuata) is a tall shrub or medium-sized tree with dark rough bark, leaves with toothed margins, and large, bright yellow flowers. It is found in south-western WA between Esperance in south and Shark Bay in north. Firewood Banksia (B menziesii) is a shrub or medium sized tree with grey bark, toothed leaves and relatively small, red or yellow flowers. It is found along the coast of Western Australia between Shark Bay in north and Perth in south. Red Swamp Banksia (B occidentalis) is a large shrub or small tree with smooth, brownish grey bark, narrow leaves and large red or yellow flowers. It is found in pockets on the coast of south western WA and Nullarbor coast. Acorn Banksia (B prionotes) is a tall shrub or small tree with grey-white bark, toothed leaves and orange flowers. Holly-leaved Banksia (B ilicifolia) is different from the others with a red or yellow globular flower in cone shaped clusters. It is found along the coast between Shark Bay in north and Esperance in south.

Southern Sky star trails over Banksia Trees.
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Northern Australia
Tropical Banksia (B dentata) is the only species that grows in the tropical northern Australia, in the Kimberley region in Western Australia, top end of Northern Territory and Cape York peninsula in Queensland. It has got dark grey rough bark, leaves with toothed margins and small yellow tubular flowers. It grows in monsoonal areas near swamps and in tropical woodlands.
 





















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