BANKSIA SERRATA; WEIRD AND WONDERFUL!

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;

 

Banksia serrata leaves

The leaves are downy at first , but soon become glossy.

Their knobbled trunks are positively creepy.

 

Knobbled Banksia serrata trunk

Good grief, there’s an issue here!

 

Trunk of Banksia serrata.

More wrinkled than me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And when an old B. serrata dies, it will keep you warm in winter.

Baksia serrata log for the fire.

Better than coal, Mate!

 

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.

 

Banksia serrata bloom.

New bloom.

As  the florets open and nectar forms, honey eating birds such as the Eastern Spinebills and wattle birds visit.

 

Eastern spiebill on banksia.

Oh yes, delicious to an Eastern spinebill.

 

Eastern spiebill on banksia.

Pretty as a picture.

 

Even the yellow tailed black cockatoos munch on them….a bit of a change from  rock hard pinecones!

 

Black cockatoo festing on banksia serrata flower.

Dessert (Wikipedia)

The transformation continues as the flowers dry off.

Banksia man.

Good grief….what a larrikin!

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.

Banksia men by May Gibbs

Oh dear looks as though one little gumnut is in serious trouble.

May Gibbs drawing of a Banksia Man

Save me!!

In the photo below the woody pods have finally burst open to release the wafer thin seeds.

 

Banksia seed pods

No wonder May Gibbs’ imagination was stirred!

Banksia serrata seeds

The well protected 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.

Banksia capsule Christmas bell

Merry Christmas

Of course banksia craft is not new. Back in 1929 Mr Charles Hewitt was making odd, giant beaked birds from the cones.

Banksia birds

Note the worm (Trove)

YOU ARE WELCOME TO LEAVE A MESSAGE IN THE BOX BELOW. THERE IS A SIMPLE ANTI-SPAM SUM TO COMPLETE.

 

 

 

3 Comments
  1. There’s nothing that says “Australia” more than a banksia! I didn’t come to Australia until I was 21 but fell in love with this quirky plant. Your story epitomises all that is weird and wonderful about it.

    • Pauline

      Thanks Christine. Yes, they are quite special. So many others besides the Banksia serrata, too.

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