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Banksia integrifolia (Family Proteaceae)

Coast Banksia, Honeysuckle Oak, White Honeysuckle, Mountain Banksia


This is the most widespread species of Banksia, extending over 3000 km along the east coast of Australia from northern Queensland to Victoria. The latitudinal range is 20-40oS and the altitudinal range is from sea level to 1700 m. (QLD, NSW, VIC)


A large shrub or small tree usually 10-16 m tall, although it often does not exceed 5 m in exposed coastal situations. The trunk is frequently twisted and leaning, and covered with a rough mosaic of dark grey, hard, thick bark. Young branchlets are densely hairy but older branches are smoother. The edges or margins of mature leaves are entire (smooth) or with a few short teeth, whorled or spirally arranged, 5-20 cm long and either dull or shiny dark green above and white below. The features of leaves vary considerably among the subspecies. The pale yellow flowers are in a terminal, cylindrical spike, 7-15 cm long and 5-7 cm wide. The fruiting body is a woody spike made up of follicles (individual fruits) each with two woody valves that open on maturity top release two seeds. The seed is shiny brown-black with a papery brown wing. There are about 52 000 viable seeds per kilogram. They germinate readily in 1-2 weeks without pre-treatment.

Ecology/Way of Life:

This species occurs mainly in warm subhumid and humid climatic zones. Coastal areas are frost free but where it occurs at high altitudes in northern New South Wales there are about 65 frosts a year. Mean annual rainfall is 850-1200 mm with a strong summer maximum in northern areas and a spring maximum in Victoria. Subspecies integrifolia and compar typically occur on coastal cliffs and headlands, river estuaries and consolidated sand dunes. Subspecies monticola extends to upland areas. This species is found on a wide variety of soil types but best development is on acidic or neutral, well-drained, sandy or loamy soils and alluvia derived from granite and basalt. It grows as a component of eucalypt open-forest, woodland, low woodland, shrubland and sometimes in mixed rainforest communities.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

This species is suitable for planting where tolerance of wind and salt exposure is important. It is used as a windbreak, for sand stabilisation, avenue planting and as an ornamental. The pinkish wood is light and weak but has an attractive oak-like appearance. It has been used for small cabinet work and turnery. It makes a useful fuelwood and the flowers are a source of honey.

Other Comments:

Banksia integrifolia was named by the Swedish taxonomist Carl Linnaeus, son of the founder of the modern system of classification of living organisms; the generic name commemorates Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), one of the first botanists to visit Australia; the species name comes from the Latin integer = entire, and folium = leaf, referring to the adult leaves which do not have serrated or lobed edges.

Further Reading:

Boland, D.J., Brooker, M.I.H., Chippendale, G.M., Hall, N., Hyland, B.P.M., Kleinig, D.A., Johnston, R.D. and Turner, J.D. 1984. Forest trees of Australia. 4th ed. Nelson and CSIRO, Melbourne. 687p.

Doran, J.C. and Turnbull, J.W. (eds.) 1997. Australian trees and shrubs; species for land rehabilitation and farm planting in the tropics. ACIAR Monograph no. 24. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Canberra. 384p.

George, A.S. 1984. The banksia book. Kangaroo Press and Society for Growing Australian Plants, NSW Ltd. 240p.

Thiele, K. and Ladiges, P.Y. 1994. The Banksia integrifolia L.f. complex (Proteaceae). Australian Systematic Botany 7: 393-408.

Topics: Soils Vegetation types Salt-tolerance Timber Honey Aboriginal resources Firewood Climatic zones Ornamental


Text & map from Australian Trees and Shrubs, courtesy Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research; text edited by J. Turnbull; photo courtesy Suzette Searle.

Sponsored by:

Suzette Searle/ACIAR


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