Coast Banksia is September's plant of the month
Like most other Proteaceae, Banksia integrifolia has proteoid roots, roots with dense clusters of short lateral rootlets that form a mat in the soil just below the leaf litter. These enhance solubilisation of nutrients, thus allowing nutrient uptake in low-nutrient soils such as the phosphorus-deficient native soils of Australia.
The leaves are leathery and have attractive dark green colouring and a silver underside.
The large lemon yellow flower head is made up of hundreds of tiny individual flowers grouped together in pairs and has an unusually short life span for Banksia species, producing nectar for only about four to twelve days. Most nectar is produced during the night and early in the morning, with only small amounts produced during the day. Flowers are produced all through the year, but there is a strong peak in autumn and into spring. Little else flowers within its range at this time, so it is a seasonally important source of food for nectariferous animals.
Aboriginal cultural groups obtained nectar by stroking the flower spikes then licking their hands, or by steeping flower spikes in a coolamon overnight. Early settlers used the nectar as a syrup for sore throats and colds; and bushmen would impregnate "cones" with fat to make a slow-burning candle.
More recently, Banksia integrifolia has been used in the art of bonsai. Its rangy habit and long internodes are challenging to overcome, but the leaves do reduce with pruning.
Where can Coast Banksia be seen in the Parklands?
Coast Banksia can be seen along Carrington Drive.
This information was curated by a team of passionate Centennial Parklands volunteers. Find out more about our volunteer programs here.