Banksia (Banksia serrata, Banksia integrifolia, Banksia spinulosa)
Size: Variable up to 20m (B.serrata)
Description: Woody evergreen plants ranging in shape from dense spreading shrubs growing along the ground (B. spinulosa) to trees up to 20m high (B. serrata). All have distinctive woody seed cones and cylindrical flower brushes.. They grow in a variety of environments and prefer infertile soils that are well drained such as coastal soils, open forests or sand dunes, heaths and woodlands. Over 70 different species in Australia.
Foliage: Dark green, stiff toothed, oblong and serrated leaves (B.serrata). Dark green narrow, needle like and linear leaves (B. spinulosa). Dark green, flat, smooth oblanceolate to ovate leaves (B. integrifolia).
Bark: Dark grey-brown with gnarled, corky warty appearance, reddish blood like sap (B. serrata). Hard light grey-brown with rough surface (B. integrifolia). Dark brown and smooth (B. spinulosa).
Flowers: All have pale to golden yellow flower spikes/blossoms (cylindrical brushes) of varying sizes (summer to winter). Cones have numerous woody follicles that each contain two flat papery, winged seeds.
Distribution: Occur along the coasts and tablelands of VIC, NSW QLD and TAS.
Uses: All Banksia have similar uses. Nectar can be collected or sucked from flowers in the morning before it evaporates or dunked in warm water to make a sweet drink. Edible seeds released from heated cones cooked and eaten (choose cones with seed capsule still closed and place near a fire to open). Edible grubs found in bark. Decorative red/purple wood used for carving (B. serrata). Dead cones smoulder for a long time and can be used to carry fire, good for cooking. Bark used for tanning.