Specimens of of the Australian native Banksia serrata were collected by Sir Joseph Banks in 1770 and later named for him. They are funny, gnarled trees that look ancient long before their time (rather like weather beaten Australian gardeners). Serrata refers to the tough, saw edged leaves;
Their knobbled trunks are positively creepy.
And when an old B. serrata dies, it will keep you warm in winter.
THE BANKSIA TREES
The banksia trees, the banksia trees
Are grisly goblin men,
Who hobble on their gnarly knees
Away from human ken
And with the twilight’s wizardries
Come creeping back again.
By ERNESTINE HILL
In spring the trees produce spectacular flowers; soft, velvety cones.
As the florets open and nectar forms, honey eating birds such as the Eastern Spinebills and wattle birds visit.
Even the yellow tailed black cockatoos munch on them….a bit of a change from rock hard pinecones!
The transformation continues as the flowers dry off.
Within the dry, brown bristles, individual pods start to ripen. Eventually, ‘Big Bad Banksia Men’ emerge; made famous by the much loved author/illustrator May Gibbs. In the image below the Banksia Men are plotting to kidnap poor little gumnut babies.
Oh dear looks as though one little gumnut is in serious trouble.
In the photo below the woody pods have finally burst open to release the wafer thin seeds.
I must say I do love the banksias; such tough Aussie trees. Here in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales they survive frost, snow, summer heat and even fire.
The extraordinary seed capsules can carved into all manner of shapes. I have a banksia bell, for my Christmas tree.
Of course banksia craft is not new. Back in 1929 Mr Charles Hewitt was making odd, giant beaked birds from the cones.
Note the worm (Trove)
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