October 7th 2009 23:29
: Australian native
The Banksia is a distinctive group of plants identified and named by Sir Joseph Banks in 1770. Botany Bay in Sydney got its name from a diary entry of Banks describing how his collection of plant samples had grown so large he was concerned they would spoil in the books. He took all his drying papers ashore, spread them out on a sail in the sun to dry them properly hence the name botany.
Indigenious Australians also feasted on the sweet flowers, some soaking the flowers in water to make a sweet drink called beal, others struck the flowers against their hands then licked off the nectar. If there were enough flowers the woman would collect the nectar in a coolamon by hitting the sides.
When the flowers die a dry fuzz remains on the central spike. Those successfully pollenated develop into velvet covered woody growths that look like swollen eyelids. In some species only a few develop giving the cob a slight human appearance, these were made famous in May Gibbs book snugglepot and cuddlepie. Each compartment holds two papery seeds that are released when heated, I put mine on a tray in the oven this works fine.
Banksias are among the most most popular cultivated native Australian plants growing easily with a minimum of attention. Unfortunately though many of the western varieties wont grow in the eastern states because they suffer root rot.
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