A month or two ago I wrote a blog post about how beautiful Banksias are. Last month I was in Perth doing fieldwork and saw some even more beautiful Banksias. I just had to write another blog post about my new favourite plant, Banksia menziesii.
Banksia menziesii is a small tree or large shrub found along the coastal areas near Perth, and to the north and south. In autumn and winter it puts forth numerous flower spikes (inflorescences) with the most amazing shades of pinks and reds. It is quite common in the Perth area from what I could see, being the dominant species in areas of Banksia woodland. It grows naturally at Kings Park in the centre of Perth, and is the emblem species for the Kings Park and Botanic Gardens.
As you probably would have guessed, Banksia menziesii was named in honour of a Menzies - Archibald Menzies to be precise, who was a surgeon and naturalist onboard HMS Discovery in the late 1800s. The species was described by the famous Swedish botanist Robert Brown in 1830, but apparently neither Brown nor Menzies actually saw one alive. It was in fact collected by Charles Fraser, a botanist onboard Captain James Stirling's journey up the Swan River in 1827.
Banksia menziesii is commonly known as Menzies Banksia or Firewood Banksia, because apparently the wood burns quickly.
Each Banksia menziesii inflorescence is made up of, on average, 1043 individual flowers (yes, someone counted them all). The yellow, lower part of the inflorescence is where the individual flowers have opened, while the whitish pinkish buds above are yet to open. The spike gradually becomes more yellow as more and more individual flowers open. Apparently there are also yellow -flowered versions but I didn't see any.