Australian Banksia

Banksias are members of the Proteaceae family, which has more than 1,400 species including Protea, Leucospermum (pincushions), Leucadendron and Telopea in addition to Banksia. Proteaceae is an ancient family, perhaps one of the oldest known groups of Banksiaflowering plants. Scientific studies of plant life show that the family existed more than 300 million years ago!

Most Banksias are native to Australia. Southwestern Australia contains the greatest diversity, with approximately 60 species recorded. The aborigines were the first humans to discover and make use of Banksia plants. They used the nectar from the flowers as part of their diet. Botanists began collecting and studying this genus as early as 1597. Botanists Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander are credited with the discovery of Banksias, and the plants were named in honor of Mr. Banks’ contribution to botany.

Banksias are heavy producers of nectar and form a vital part of the food chain in the Australian bush. They are an important food source for all sorts of nectariferous animals, including birds, bats, rats, possums, sting-less bees and a host of invertebrates. Furthermore, they are of economic importance to Australia’s nursery and cut flower industries. However, these plants are threatened by a number of processes including land clearing, frequent burning and disease, and a number of species are rare and endangered.

Yellow BanksiaBanksia has unusual flowers that have dense, fuzzy inflorescence’s made up of tightly packed small flowers. The rugged appearance created by their serrated leaves and large flower heads give Banksias a distinctive appearance which is of great value in floral design.

Cylindrical, brush like flower heads can range from 5-30 cm long and 6-12 cm wide.

Most Banksia blossoms have earth-toned colors of yellow, orange, red, pink and green. The flower colors of some species and cultivars change over time in vase solutions. Banksias also can be altered using absorption-type floral dyes.

Depending on the species, Banksias are available year-round from both international and domestic sources. There are periods when they are more plentiful, particularly during the cooler seasons in the various regions where they are grown.

Flowers need to be cut when showing good colour. Foliage tips, which sometimes can show field burn need to be clipped.

Red BanksiaThese unusual flowers have long lives and old souls. Purchase Banksias when approximately one-third of the florets are showing stamens or pollen. Watch for blackened foliage or florets and for any sign of fungus inside the “bottle-brush”-shaped heads. Banksia flowers rot easily if they are kept wet for any length of time, so avoid flowers with any sign of water damage.

Handling these flowers is easy. Trim at least 2.5 cm from the bottom of each stem with a sharp knife or pruner. Remove all leaves that would fall below the water line and any that conceal the blossoms. Place the stems into a clean vase with a properly prepared flower food solution. Re-cut the stems, change the vase water frequently and keep these flowers away from direct sunlight to keep them looking fresh. Banksias generally last for about two weeks, depending on species.

In arrangements they can be used as a line or form flower, these large exotic blooms create a fantastic focal point!

Banksias dry easily and have many uses as dried flowers. They will dry without shedding leaves or florets.

Keep the water in the vase of your Banksia fresh. Replace the water every 3 days with cold water keeping the water level near the top of the vase. Re-cut 1 cm from the base of each Banksia stem using a sharp knife with each water change. Remove any foliage that may become submerged after re-cutting to avoid bacterial growth.

About Connor Lowry

I love flowers! I enjoy writing about them as well as gardening. Mostly I love finding new and unique flower gardening ideas I encourage you to post regularly on this blog, and send in guest blogs or ideas for new blogs as well. New and exciting blogs are always welcome I intend to post a lot of interesting facts and fun stuff about flowers, as well as info on many varieties of flowers.
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3 Responses to Australian Banksia

  1. Pingback: Flowers Available in Winter | Grower Direct Fresh Cut Flowers Presents…

  2. Pingback: Ancient, unusual & insanely gorgeous – Proteaceae | funflowerfacts

  3. Pingback: Leucadendron | funflowerfacts

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