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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Banksia integrifolia - Coast Banksia

Commonly called the Coast Banksia or Coastal Banksia, this interesting plant has a variable growth habit ranging from a large upright tree to a spreading large shrub, usually  with a single trunk but can me multi stemmed if shrub like. Other sources indicate there are four subspecies so my guess is that has a lot to do with the variability. The specimens I have seen in town grow upright and are about 25-30' and look like the one below seen at the USCS Arboretum. 



The evergreen simple leaves are whorled in groups of 3 to 5, oblanceolate, 3-5" long, dark green upper surface, silver below, thick and leathery texture.




Young stems are covered with a whitish coat of hairs, older stems become tan colored.



Notice the whorled leaf arrangement as well as the copper colored stems.



Banksia "flowers" are beautiful, though what we are looking at is an inflorescence or a group of flowers perhaps several hundred individuals on a woody stalk, arranged in a spiral, opening from the bottom up to the top. 

Individual flowers are usually light yellow or greenish and mostly what you see is the style, which is the female part of the flower.




After pollination, the "cone" develops, which is not a true cone but a collection of follicles arranged on a woody stalk and opening when dry or exposed to fire. Students mentioned they look like clams opening.



Bark is rough gray to brown and shallowly checked.



Misidentification:
lets hope there are not many other Banksias out there, just kidding really, look at the foliage, as other Banksia trees have different leaf shapes.

Location:
Aptos
564 Santa Marguarita Dr
630 Cliff Dr

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