Plant of the Month — January 2010
Banksia coccinea R.Br. — Scarlet Banksia
This vivid, showy and therefore popular plant, growing on the south coast of Western Australia between Denmark and Esperance and flowering from late winter to early summer, is a very distinctive member of the Banksia genus. It grows as a shrub or small tree and is pollinated by birds and mammals seeking its sweet nectar. The flower heads, with spectacular longitudinal bands of scarlet and white, make it a very desirable addition to the State’s cut flower industry.
As with many members of the Proteaceae family, Banksia coccinea is very susceptible to Phytophthora cinnamomi or ‘Dieback’. Much of its natural habitat is infected with this fungus, resulting in a great reduction of the wild population.
Not regarded as an easy plant to cultivate in metropolitan gardens, it is not readily available from local nurseries. However, the species is now widely cultivated commercially and forms an important part of Australia’s floral export trade.
Photo: M. Seale
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