Banksia (Australian Honeysuckle)
Banksia is a genus of about 100 species in the family Proteaceae, native to the Southern Hemisphere. Most are shrubs, but some are robust trees, with diverse foliage and large, complex flower heads. Banksias are known for their distinctive, often large cone-shaped flower spikes. The flower head is made up of hundreds or even thousands of small individual flowers attached to a central axis. The flowers are often honey-scented and nectar-rich. There is no doubt that Banksias are valued as an important food source for a number of animals. They are highly attractive to pollinators and the birds absolutely adore them!
Banksia is named after the famous English naturalist and explorer, Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), who collected and described these plants on his voyage to Australia with captain James Cook.
It was also named "Australian Honeysuckle" because of its nectar, often referred to as "honey". Banksia flowers are nectar-rich honey plants highly attractive to pollinators.
Banksia symbolizes rebirth and new beginnings.
Interesting facts about Banksia:
The greatest concentration of species is found in Western Australia. Banksias are among the first species collected during Cook’s 1770 journey to Australia.
However, Aboriginals use Banksias as a source of food well before the 18th century. They would often soak the flowers in water to make a honey drink.
Most of the species have lignotuber, a woody structure at the base of the stem which stores nutrients which ensure quick regeneration of plants after the fire.
Banksias are great cut flowers because of their long vase life and flower form.