Banksia grandis  

Locations on course: to the left of the 4th tee: to the left of the 17th tee.
Height: 1.5 to 10 metres
Uses: Aborigines made a sweet drink from the flower spike. The dry cones were used as a firestick for transporting and kindling fires as they keep smouldering for a long time.

This has the largest flower spike of all the Banksias with one spike containing up to 6000 individual flowers.

It is particularly susceptible to Jarrah dieback disease (Phytophera cinnamomi) and is regarded as a sentinel species for the presence of this fungus.

Cut and polished, the cones make elegant coasters for ones drinks.

The genus banksia was first described and named by Carolus Linnaeus in 1782. The name is in honour of Sir Joseph Banks who collected the first banksia specimens in 1770, during James Cook’s first expedition. There are 77 species. All but one of the living banksia species are endemic to Australia. Over 90% of all banksia species occur in the Southwest of Western Australia.

61 of the species are Western Australian. They are related to the Proteas of southern Africa.

The first Banksia collected in Western Australia, Banksia menziesii, in 1791, was by Archibald Menzies, the surgeon/naturalist on Captain George Vancouver’s voyage to King George Sound in 1791. (In those days the ship’s doctor often multitasked as the botanist and naturalist as well as doing the amputations). The boat, the Discovery, went on to North America. Menzies’ name is also remembered as the Douglas fir Pseudotsuga menziesii.

Banksias are well adapted to our nutrient poor soils. They put out cluster roots in wet weather to gather minute amounts of phosphate and other nutrients. Hence they are easily poisoned by application of fertilisers, which makes difficult their maintenance on the course. They are also prone to disease such as die-back caused by infection with Phytophthora cinnamomi. Pollination is usually by birds but some insects and even small marsupials (pygmy possums) can be involved.

Originally there were four Banksias which grew around the course; Banksia menziesii, B. attenuata, B. prionotes and B .grandis. Banksia menziesii died out a few years ago but has been recently reintroduced.

The fossil record from 50-60 million years ago shows that banksias were present in the part of Gondwana that became Australia. One fossil from the Kennedy Range near Carnarvon, Banksia archaeocarpa, thought to be 40 million years old, is strikingly similar to our slender Banksia (B. attenuata).

(Source: Wikipedia)

“Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience.” (Hal Borland)