Origin: Australia

Family: Proteaceae
Subfamily: Grevilleoideae
Tribe: Banksieae
Scientific Name: Banksia spp.

Indigenous (Noongar) Names:
Bull Banksia (Banksia grandis): Poolgarla, mungite, beera; pibulmun (flower)
Slender Banksia (Banksia attenuata): Piara, binda, bealwra
Swamp Banksia (Banksia littoralis): Pungara, boora, boorarup, mimidi


Element: Fire
Day: Wednesday
Planet: Saturn
Zodiac: Virgo
Associated Celebrations: ShadowFest, Reflection

Magical Properties: Vitality, energy, happiness, passion, wisdom, protection, renewal

Substitutions: Jarrah, karri, vines (Druidic Ogham equivalent)


Banksia cones are also linked to the sun, and the Noongar name for the banksia cones (birytch) has been linked to the word for daylight (biryt), due to their fire-related uses.

The “Big Bad Banksia Men” in May Gibbs' children’s stories are based on the appearance of old banksia cones. They are dark, hairy, knobbly, many-eyed creatures, who are always hatching wicked plots to capture the bush babies.

Magical Uses


Indigenous Uses:


There are around 170 species of Banksia, all of which are endemic to Australia but one (B. dentata, which also occurs in New Guinea). Over 90% of Banksia species occur only in southwest Western Australia.

Type: Shrubs/trees
Plant size: 1m-30m
Leaves: Vary in size from 1.5cm needle-like leaves, to 45cm long; most have serrated edges.
Flowers: Flowers are arranged in spikes of hundreds-to-thousands of individual flowers with a wooden centre (except for the sub-genus Isostylis which have dome-shaped heads). Flowers are usually shades of yellow, but can also be orange, red, pink, or even violet. The flowers may fall off the spike (‘cone’) as they die, or remain attached (giving a hairy appearance), depending on species. Mostly flower in djilba, kambarang, and birak.
Fruit: A small portion of flowers tend to develop into fruits, which form in the iconic eye-shaped follicles of two horizontal valves along the woody flower spike. These open to release 1-2 seeds each, either as the fruit matures, or after a bushfire (depending on species).

Etymology: Banksias are named after Sir Joseph Banks, one of the naturalists on the Endeavour.

In the Garden

Type: Evergreen shrub/tree
Light: Full sun
Water: Drought-resistant once established
Soil: Well-draining, sandy soil