Banksia menziesii

banksia flower

Banksia menziesii is currently painting the bushland in hues of pink and yellow. Flowers range from pink and red through orange and coppery shades to brilliant yellow. [1] Some plants always flower yellow, some always pink, and some start the flowering season yellow and as winter temperatures drop, later opening flowers tend toward pink and red. [2] This tree at Richard Guelfi Reserve (below) always has yellow flowers. Behind it is a pink flowering Banksia menziesii.

yellow Banksia menziesii

Flower colour in Banksia menziesii has a complicated biochemical pathway. A number of factors, aside from temperature, affect the colour of individual flowers on the one tree. Anthocyanin is present in many plants (including purple vegetables) and is one flavonoid which affects flower colour in Banksia menziesii. [2]

Seed of Banksia menziesii is black or pale. Kevin Collins (Banksia breeder and member of the ANPSA Banksia Study Group) has a theory seed colour corresponds to flower colour. [3] Seed coat colour comes from the DNA of the female parent. Flower colour of progeny could come from male or female parent, thus seed coat colour and flower colour may not correspond. Alternatively, the colour of seed and flower may be entirely independent of each other. [2]

seed from Banksia menziesii

The Banksia menziesii next to the potting shed at work has half its seeds black and half pale (above).

Banksia menziesii flowers in bud

Flowers on this tree are mainly pink but yellower at the start of the season. The photo (above) of flower spikes in bud was taken this week. This tree at Lake Gwelup (below) has pinker flower spikes in bud.

Banksia menziesii at Lake Gwelup

Scientific name Banksia menziesii

Common name Firewood Banksia

Flower February – October

Banksia menziesii in bud

yellow flower in March at Star Swamp

early yellow Banksia menziesii

flower in April at Star Swamp

early Banksia menziesii flower

flower in June at Reabold Hill

late Banksia menziesii flower

This plant (below) always flowers with a brighter shade of yellow than the early yellow of variable flower colour plants.

yellow Banksia menziesii

Seed pod fruit forms a cone [1]

unopen banksia cone

cone with closed follicles (above), cone with open follicles (below)

open banksia cone

Associated wildlife insects and birds (honeyeaters, spinebills, wattlebirds) drink the nectar. Carnaby’s black cockatoo feed on nectar, grubs and seeds. Larvae of two weevils burrow in the cone, a moth larva burrows in the flower spike and another moth larva eats the leaves, leaving scribble marks. [4] Co-occurs with Banksia attenuata, each flowers for half the year, thus always providing nectar. [4]

ant feeding on banksia nectar

This sand monitor (Varanus gouldii) at Star Swamp Reserve climbed a banksia to hide and camouflaged well with the grey bark. The leaves are from Hardenbergia comptoniana growing up the banksia trunk.

sand monitor climbing banksia

Bark lumpy, grey

banksia bark

Growth habit medium sized lignotuberous tree, [1] with crooked branches. [4] After fire re-shoots from the lignotuber, as happened with the old tree next to the potting shed. Every shoot grew into a trunk over the years.

Banksia menziesii sprouts from a lignotuber

The banksia woodland at Richard Guelfi Reserve has many Banksia menziesii. This reserve is a remnant of bushland within an industrial area. It is very degraded and part of a project to amalgamate isolated pockets of bushland; control weeds, dieback and rabbits; and revegetate with local native plants.

banksia woodland

Florabase record http://florabase.com/browse/profile/1834

References

  1. Barrett & Tay (2005) Perth Plants. Perth: BGPA.
  2. Croxford, Ben (2016) Personal Communication.
  3. Collins, Collins & George (2009) Banksias. Melbourne: Bloomings Books.
  4. Powell, Robert (2009) Leaf and Branch: Trees and Tall Shrubs of Perth. (2nd ed) Perth: DEC.

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