Banksia serrata: There are at least Banksia 76 species all native to Australia with one species extending to New Guinea (Banksia dentata). Sixty species are endemic in south-western Western Australia. Many of these western Banksia are some of Australia’s most magnificent plants. Banksias belong to the Proteaceae family (one of our favourite families).
Banksia serrata is known as the Old Man Banksia and is a distinctive feature in eastern Australian bushland. They are usually gnarled, often twisted small trees with thick, serrated (hence the species name) leaves about 15 centimetres long. The dramatic flower spikes may exceed 20 centimetres in length. In bud, the flower spikes are grey-green and when they open are yellow-green. Flowering occurs from late summer to winter.
Banksia serrata was immortalized in the Australian bush stories, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs. The old cones represented the villains in these stories.
Banksia serrata gives an Australian character to the garden. The flowers are rich in nectar and attract honeyeaters. In common with other species, Old Man Banksia needs regular watering for the first two years after planting. Banksias have fibrous root systems rather than the usual taproot. Young plants with fibrous root systems are prone to sudden death in dry times.
Well-drained situations suit Banksia serrata and full sun is also appreciated. There is a ground covering form known as “Austraflora Pygmy Possum”.
Banksia serrata has an interesting natural distribution. The species extends along the coast and nearby tablelands of eastern Australia from southern Queensland to southern Victoria with a small outlying population in northern Tasmania across Bass Strait.
Propagate from seed and cuttings.