Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Banksia is a genus of the Proteaceae, named after the great English botanist Sir Joseph Banks, of the Cook expedition in 1768. They are native to Australia, growing in the form of shrubs and trees (they are also known as Australian Honeysuckle Trees). The smallest banksias are prostrate miniatures and the largest are fully-grown trees.
In most cases the under surface of the leaves is silvery white, contrasting with the deep green of the upper surface. When flowering, they often produce magnificent flower spikes containing hundreds of flowers. In the photos you can clearly see the spiky nature of both the leaves and flowers. Once the flowers start to die off the cones become dry and brown, clinging to the plant for several seasons. Any fertilised flowers become knobbly brown seedpods during this time.
The knobbly appearance of aged banksia cones inspired children's writer May Gibbs to create a character for her Australian Flower Fairy series Snugglepot and Cuddlepie - the Big Bad Banksia Men were the villains of her tales.
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