Banksia serrata    

Old-man Banksia

Old-man Banksia is a revered archivist of the bush, recording and storing the passage of time and events in its knobbly grey bark that fissures with age. With a gnarled ancient appearance it has a distinguished place in the small tree layer of open-forests and woodlands.

Its sturdy leaves are up to 16cm long and evenly serrated. Green and waxy above, the underside is a velvety grey-green. In summer thousands of flowers assemble in stocky creamy-grey spikes, and produce copious nec- tar that attracts insects, birds and possums.

Only some of the flowers develop into the large brown velvety smooth seed pods which project like heavy eyelids from the shaggy grey hair of the long withered styles. It may take years, or even a fire, before each pod opens to reveal two black winged seeds.

Family: Proteaceae

Kids Activity Trail

  • Why do you think this plant has the name Old Man Banksia?
  • Did you know banksias are generally pollinated by honey eating birds and insects? Sometimes small mammals are also involved in varying degrees. In NSW these include the pygmy-possums, sugar gliders and brown antechinus
  • Have you seen the leaves of this tree? They are serrated and are green and waxy above, with the underside a velvety grey- green. It may take years, or even a fire before each pod opens to reveal two black winged seeds

Image Credit: MAIJA COLLISHAW Banksia serrata (Old Man Banksia) 2000, carved sandstone, 55 x 75 x 133 cm, Wentworth Falls Lake Sculpture Project, Blue Mountains City Art Collection