Banksia is an Australian native evergreen tree or shrub in the Proteaceae family with about 170 known species. The Tropical Banksia grows from New Guinea to the Aru islands, and one now-extinct species was from New Zealand.
They usually have leathery, heavily serrated leaves, which are furry underneath. This is very evident on young leaves.
Flowers are in a cylinder with a woody center at the ends of branches. Each flower has 4 stamens and 4 perianth segments that meet, but don’t overlap in the bud. Each flower structure may contain several hundred to thousands of individual flowers, often in a tight spiral around a wooden core. Colors range from silvery green through brilliant gold, yellows and orange to violet and deep red shades. Most flower in summer through winter.
Banksia can range from small woody shrubs through to trees as tall as 100 feet. Shrubs may be erect or prostrate with stems at ground level, while trees usually have a stout, irregular trunk and low branches.
Their wood and cones are used for arts and crafts as well as woodwork.
Fire stimulates follicles to open and release seeds, which then germinate in the ground and allow rapid regeneration. Many other species are known to have fire-tolerant ‘lignotubers’ that can resprout after a fire and/or a thick protective layer of bark.
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Name Derivation: Named in honor of Sir Joseph Banks, who was the first to record its discovery when he and Daniel Solander landed at Botany Bay, on the east coast of Australia (then New Holland) on the Endeavour in 1770.
Banksia is in the family Proteaceae.