Banksia spinulosa Varieties

Eric Williamson

When you are trying to identify a plant from a small piece of foliage, and are struggling to fit your specimen into some botanical scheme, take heart. Many others are in the same boat!

Reprinted with permission of the author, this is part of a longer work which graced the `Banksia Atlas' produced by the Australian Government Printing Service in 1987.

I know a spinulosa
From the rarer paludosa
And from marginata, aemula and all.
I know it from dentata
And from robur and serrata,
But varieties can send me up the wall

It could be spinulosa,
Perhaps collina's closer,
Or maybe it is cunninghamii
To add to the confusion
There's now a new intrusion,
The one they want to call new englandi.

I lose all my momentum
When that leafy indumentum
Could be tomentose, pubescent or hirsute.
And if I look more fully,
Is it villous or just woolly
Or maybe there's a better word to suit.

And the edges of the leaves
Are a factor that deceives
When changes in one tree can be so great.
A further complication
Is if every variation
Has a leaf which is entire to serrate.

Perhaps it's not dentated
But rather more serrated,
Apiculate, retuse or mucronate,
And this one is a beaut,
Recurved or revolute,
Acute and just a bit emarginate.

I'll leave those varied edges
To study shapes like wedges
Or sickle-like or truncate turbinate.
Now are the leaves mature
Or just a little newer,
Like juveniles with quite a different trait?