If you fondly remember May Gibbs’s Gumnut Baby stories about the adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, you may also remember the villainous Big Bad Banksia Men (perhaps you’re still having nightmares about them).
But banksias are nothing to be afraid of. They’re a marvellous group of Australian native trees and shrubs, with an ancient heritage and a vital role in Australian plant ecology, colonial history and bushfire regeneration.
The genus Banksia has about 173 native species. It takes its name from botanist Sir Joseph Banks, who collected specimens of four species in 1770 when he arrived in Australia on board Captain Cook’s Endeavour. MORE
Header image: In the right conditions, coastal banksia can grow to 35m tall. Credit: Shutterstock.