28 November 2008

Teasel Banksia - Banksia pulchella

Click image to enlarge

Teasel Banksia - Banksia pulchella

A common small shrub (less than 1 metre (3') in height), but restricted to heath communities in deep white (acid) sands. It has very elegant flowers to around 5 cm (2") diameter, with long golden styles that shimmer in sunlight; the attractive seed capsules (initially greenish), are spherical and about the size of a golf-ball. These remain on the bush for the life of the plant and will open to release the seed only after a bushfire. These will then readily germinate after decent rainfall and the plants flower within 3 years.

This banksia is an important food source for honeyeaters and the honey possum due to its long flowering period (often flowering on and off throughout the year), with peaks during summer and winter. These times are when other nectar producing plants are less active, so its nectar supply is much appreciated by many species. Unfortunately this benefit is exploited by feral cats and foxes that prey on the animals when they must feed close to the ground and well within their reach.

Nevertheless, a very common banksia in suitable habitat around the Esperance district and always a delight to see.