Gallery: Australia's Banksias
Propellers and porcupines, hairpins and tennis balls — the common names for some of Australia's 78 species of banksia speak volumes about their distinctiveness and diversity. All but one — the tropical banksia — are found only in Australia. South-western WA hogs most of the limelight with more than 80 per cent of species. What appears to be one large, showy flower is actually a dense cluster of up to several thousand individual blossoms. Their nectar once provided a sweet treat for Aboriginal people, who sucked the flower spike or soaked it in water to make a drink. After flowering, the spike develops into a woody cone with tightly closed follicles, each containing one or two 'winged' seeds.
Photo credit: Anne Hayes