After months of the local banksia trees showing only their old scruffy looking seed pods ~

Banksia seed pods

Scruffy Banksia Seed Pods

Today, after a lot of rain, I noticed a couple of  beautiful fresh lemon yellow banksia flowers blooming 🙂

Banksia Flowers

Banksia Flowers

The genus Banksia is named after the botanist, Sir Joseph Banks who accompanied James Cook on the 1768-1771 voyage to Australia.

Image: Joseph Banks

Joseph Banks

Joseph Banks collected samples from Botany Bay which were sketched and painted by Sydney Parkinson a botanical artist who was also on the expedition.

Banksia watercolour

I’ve always held a soft spot for banksia seed pods; they remind me of both muppets faces, and the beaks of baby birds gapping open wide begging for more worms!

Banksias were ‘brought to life’ by May Gibbs in 1918 in her children’s books Tales of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie.

Banksia Man by May Gibbs

Banksia Man by May Gibbs

Sadly for me they are portrayed as the baddies of the tale ~

Banksia Men 🙁

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5 thoughts on “Banksia

  1. Two excellent photos you’ve taken Linda of your old Scruffy Banksia seed pods and the new ones just in flower.

    For your banksias to have just come into flower this late in the season (mid February) can only mean the soil there has not held sufficient moisture, until now, to have ‘triggered’ this process.

    Down here in the Southern Highlands of NSW, that variety of Banksia is widespread in the local national parks. Unfortunately, the banksias here will not come into flower this season due to lower than average minimum spring/summer temperatures and lower than average rainfall during this past season.

    We’ve just had a fair drop of rain this past couple weeks and that’s signalled the end of summer for us so there’s no chance of that banksia coming into flower around here now.

    There were hardly any of the low-growing, shrubby bottlebrush banksia flowered here this season due to the dry spring/summer conditions.

    I spent yesterday afternoon, with camera and binoculars in-hand scouring the nearby Thirlmere Lakes National Park for any banksias in flower that are growing close to the lakes. There was no real evidence that any of them had flowered this season 🙁 But they did promise me that they’ll try to do better next summer 🙂

  2. I must confess it was a pleasant surprise to see these flowers so late in the season ~
    It has been dry for a while so think you’re right about the rain ‘triggering’ them into this belated action 🙂
    Hope you get some next year!

  3. Banksia’s are my favourite Australian native, like my Aussie equivilent to an oak tree; wisend, ancient and solid looking. I collect Banksia pods instead of pine cones and have some displayed in a glass fishbowl on my front verandah.
    I also have a banksia growing at the back of my garden next to our shed which is soon going to be transformed into a cosy potting shed/studio/retreat and I am going to call it Banksia Cottage.
    Nice to find others who share my appreciation of this native. Also I have been wondering for some time if I should prune my Banskia? I have been here 3 years. It looks quite young and has branches near its base, a long tunk and then bransches at the top. I havent looked up what variety it is but it has serrated leaves. Any advice?

  4. Yes, I love Banksia Seed pods and like you, confess to having a little collection of them gathered up from here and there across the country 🙂
    But, not being a gardener I can’t help you on their care, I’m sorry to say 🙁
    Australian seedpods generally are all rather gorgeous, don’t you think? I love the variety of Eucalyptus pods too – so many sizes and such lovely nutty knobbly shapes!
    Think they beat conkers 😉

  5. Hi Charley – The most common Banksia shrub/tree with its coarse serrated leaves found along the eastern seaboard in sandy loam soil will be the Banksia serrata (old man banksia). These have pronounced serrated leaves as opposed to most of the other 60+ varieties of banksia.

    As they mature their trunks become gnarled and twisted, more so if they have rocks or boulders in the subsoil around their roots. If you happen to damage some of its bark, you should see that the trunk is dark pink to red in colour.

    You shouldn’t have any problems pruning its branches to make it look neater / narrower. Such pruning should be done in moderation of course even if it takes some years to get it to the shape you want.

    I’d be reluctant to prune much if anything off the top of it though, as you’ll eventually end up with a thick trunk with little if any canopy.

    Also, banksias (as with most natives) do not tolerate applications of phosphorous at all. That means don’t feed them, or anything near them, with superphosphate or lawn food.

    On that score, if the plant looks healthy, don’t feed it with any fertiliser at all. With adequate rainwater, they thrive in our low nutrient sandy coastal soils.

    Love your website by the way, and how you and your family go about enjoying the great Aussie outdoors and then taking time out to tell us all about it 😉

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