Today’s entry was written by Katherine:
Banksia grandis is native to Western Australia and can grow either as a shrub (along the south coast, among granite rocks) or more commonly as a tree 5 to 10m in height (sometimes up to 15m). A map of the distribution of Banksia grandis is available via the Western Australian Herbarium’s FloraBase website. According to the WA Herbarium, Banksia grandis grows in sandy and laterite soils (soils rich in iron and aluminum, formed in hot & wet tropical areas). Banksia grandis blooms in the summer months, September to December or January, with yellow-green flowers maturing to become bright yellow. The flower heads measure approximately 40cm long and 10cm wide. After flowering, the structure supporting the fruit becomes quite woody, and these cones are used in wood-turning.
Wikipedia notes that Banksia grandis is commonly known as bull banksia, giant banksia or mangite in English. The species is also known as mangyt, pulgarla or Bool gal la by the indigenous peoples, who steeped the flowers in water or sucked them to obtain nectar. The Wikipedia article also mentions that while the differences in growth (shrub vs. tree) are retained when the coastal plants are grown elsewhere, no subspecific taxa are recognized.
Research has been conducted on the reproductive ecology of Banksia grandis by Abbott (see: Abbott, I. 1985. Reproductive ecology of Banksia grandis (Proteaceae). New Phytol. 99(129-148)). One practical application of this research included helping to determine the feasibility of reducing the size of the healthy Banksia grandis populations in order to manage the spread of an associated introduced fungal pathogen, Phytophthora cinnamomi–a pathogen endangering more sensitive and/or threatened species. The Centre for Phytophthora Science and Management shows the extent of Phytophthora cinnamomi in Western Australia, as well as illustrating the impact of the pathogen on native plant communities.