Fern-like Banksia, Southern Blechnum Banksia
Banksia blechnifolia F.Muell.
Although slow-growing it is considered to be one of the hardiest of Western Australia's plant species to cultivate. It is very attractive for gardens because of the ornamental leaves, relative drought tolerance and low maintenance requirements. Additionally, the new growth is quite appealing, with a nice rusty colour.
Leaves are up to 45 cm long, 4 to 10 cm wide, deeply lobed and bluish green; young growth is covered with reddish hairs. The inflorescence is 6 to 16 cm long and 7 to 8 cm wide. Flowers are reddish-pink, becoming cream towards the base. Flowering occurs in spring, from late September to mid-November. The woody follicles usually open when burnt.
A plant of Banksia blechnifolia in cultivation has been recorded as covering an area of 4 metres in diameter and flowering prolifically. Ideally, this species should be grown in well-drained, sandy soils with pH 5.5 to 7.0, but it also tolerates some clay as long as good drainage is always provided. Some shade is acceptable; however, for best flowering full sun is highly recommended. Fertilise in early spring with slow release fertiliser, and organic fertiliser in summer. Ensure fertilisers are low in phosphorus. B. blechnifolia enjoys additional watering, which can promote growth in dry and hot seasons. Individuals flowers in 4–5 years and propagation is from seeds. No reports of pest or disease susceptibility are known for B. blechnifolia.
Text by Eric Kataoka (2014 Student Botanical Intern)
Name meaning: Banksia blechnifolia
Banksia – named after Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), who collected the first specimens of the genus during Captain Cook's voyage in 1770.
blechnifolia – named after the fern genus Blechnum, and the Latin word folium meaning a leaf, referring to the resemblance between the leaves of this species and the fronds of Blechnum.
Australian National Botanic Gardens (2014) Banksias. Available at www.anbg.gov.au/banksia [Accessed January 2014].
Collins, K., Collins K. and George, A. (2008) Banksias. Bloomings Books Pty Ltd, Melbourne.
Wrigley, J. W. & Fagg, M. (1989). Banksias, Waratahs and Grevilleas and all other plants in the Australian Proteaceae Family. William Collins Pty. Ltd. Sydney, NSW.