Plant of the month: January
Sir Joseph Banks returned to Britain with this fantastic example of antipodean floral eccentricity! To him the rusty-orange, bottle brush like flowers would have been similar to no other plant material ever seen before. Imagine the excitement of discovering these plants flowering en masse in the hitherto undiscovered landscape of East Australia. The botanic diversity of this area lead it to be named, Botany Bay. He was, however, reminded of home as the leaves of this plant bare a close resemblance to those of our native heather (Erica vulgaris), hence the species name and its common name of heath-leaved Banksia.
Banksia are botanically interesting as they are an example of serotinous plants highly adapted to fire. These are plants which will hold on to their seeds for a number of years to be released in the event of fire. This phenomenon clears the ground of all competition allowing Banksia ericifolia to re-colonise and once again reign supreme.