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Swamp Banksia


Swamp banksia

Botanical name:

Banksia robur


Swamp Banksia is a common native evergreen shrub which thrives in the grounds of Centennial Parklands. The genus name Banksia commemorates the famous NSW botanist, Sir Joseph Banks, who first named the plant in 1770, while the species name robur refers to the Latin term for hardwood. About 75 different species of Banksia trees and shrubs have been identified.

Native to sandy and swampy areas of NSW and Queensland, Banksia robur grows up to 2.5 metres high and 2.5 metres wide, forming a dense broad bun shape of foliage and flowers. Its large, leathely, oval leaves feature a prominent yellow mid rib and serrated margins. Large flowers, appearing at the ends of each branch, form dense cylindrical spikes of green and blue which then age to pale yellow and finally to grey as the flowers mature into fruit.

The mature fruit, know as follicles, are surrounded by the hairy spent flowers, giving Banksia robur its characteristic appearance. It is also this feature of the plant that provided the inspiration behind May Gibbs' big bad Banksia Men of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie fame.

Banksia robur will survive western sun and be tolerant of part shade conditions but it prefers full sun positions with a constant source of moisture. This plant is not considered drought tolerant but is extremely adaptable to a variety of soil conditions ranging from sandy to clay, with periodically inundated soils.

Regular applications of native fertiliser are generally not necessary, though half-strength, low-phosphorus fertiliser is recommended in spring, autumn and summer if the plant is appearing deficient. Pruning is generally not necessary, but cutting away uncharacteristic growth will help to form a dense habit. This species rejuvenates particularly well after pruning - a feature most Banksias need in order to survive bushfires.

Banksia robur is most suited for coastal gardens and gardens with a native theme. Its seed, nectar and fruit attract a wide variety of birds while its flowers and foliage provide an interesting contrast to most other plants in a garden environment.

Where can the Swamp banksia be seen in the Parklands?

Information to be supplied

Further reading:

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Centennial Park's freshwater ponds are extensive and include One More Shot Pond, the Lily Pond, the Duck Pond and Randwick Pond. 

Discover history in the Park

Centennial Park has a fascinating history – download one of our self-guided walking tour apps to learn more about the Park as you explore.