Field of Science

Friday Fabulous Flower - Banksia

To get a Friday Fabulous Flower the Phytophactor had to reach far afield, half way around the world into the southern hemisphere. Although widely refered to as Banksia "flowers" , a name honoring the botanist Joseph Banks, this is actually a whole inflorescence of tiny flowers borne closely together in pairs. Pollination is accomplished by the pollinator crawling over the surface of this "bottle brush" going flower to flower or sort of poking into the "brush". Since they are a rich source of nectar the pollinator could be a bird, a small possumy mammal, or a bat, or some combination thereof, and because the latter two are largely nocturnal the flowers are often fragrant at night. Above the flowers and oriented sideways is one of last season's infructescences. The individual fruits are quite hard and often do not open until they have been heated, an adaptation to fire ecology. And of course these are the stuff of Australian children's tales, the evil banksia men who are always on the outlook for unsuspecting gumnut babies.

1 comment:

Larissa said...

an evil banksia men print would be a pretty cool thing to have. we'll have to hunt for one.