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The Different Species of Banksia

Colour plate facing page 221 of 'The Banksia Serrata in Bud.'



The finest new genus hitherto found in New Holland has been destined by Linnæus, with great propriety, to transmit to posterity the name of Sir Joseph Banks, who first discovered it in his celebrated voyage round the world. It is indeed one of the most magnificent genera with which we are acquainted, being nearly allied to Protea and Embothrium in habit and botanical characters, but sufficiently distinguished from both by its fruit. Four species of Banksia are described in the Supplementum Plantarum of Linnæus, specimens of which we have seen in his Herbarium now in the possession of Dr. Smith of Marlborough Street; and we have deposited with the same gentleman


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specimens of all the plants we are about to describe in this work. Dr. Gaertner, in his admirable book on fruits and seeds, has figured the fruit of several Banksias, some of them described by Linnæus. Having had his plates, with the names, engraved before he saw the Supplementum of Linnæus, his nomenclature differs from that of the last-mentioned author; but he quotes his synonyms in the letter-press. We mention this that he may not be accused of wantonly changing Linnæan names, and that for the worse, as it would appear to any one uninformed of this circumstance.

Colour plate facing page 222 of 'The Banksia serrata in Flower.'



The character of the genus is very badly made out in Linnæus. Gaertner has greatly corrected it, but it is still a doubt whether the flowers are constantly monopetalous or tetrapetalous, nor have we materials sufficient to remove this difficulty. All we can say is, that Banksia is next in natural arrangement to Protea, from which it is essentially distinguished by having an hard woody bivalve capsule, containing two winged seeds, with a moveable membranous partition between them. It is strangely misplaced in Murray's 14th edition of Systema Vegetabilium, being put between Ludwigia and Oldenlandia!

Mr. White has sent imperfect specimens and seeds of


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four species of Banksia, which we have endeavoured to settle as follows:

1. B. serrata. Linn. Supp. 126.

B. conchifera. Gaertn. 221. t.48.

Colour plate facing page 223 of 'The Banksia Serrata in Fruit.'



This is the most stately of the genus. Its trunk is thick and rugged. Leaves alternate, standing thick about the ends of the branches on short footstalks, narrow, obtuse, strongly serrated, smooth and of a bright green colour above, beneath opaque and whitish, with a strong rib running through their middle. A very large cylindrical spike of flowers terminates each branch. Most of the flowers are abortive, a few only in each spike producing ripe seed. The form of the capsules may be understood from the figure, which represents a whole spike in fruit, about half the natural size. The capsules are covered with thick down. Another plate of the plant in flower shews the curved position in which the style is held by the corolla; the increase of the former in length being greater and more rapid than that of the latter.




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2. B. pyriformis. Gaertn. 220. t. 47. f. I.

This species was unknown to Linnæus; and as Gaertner has given no specific character of it, we beg leave to offer the following:

B. floribus solitariis, capsulis ovatis pubescentibus, foliis lanceolatis integerrimis glabris.

Banksia with solitary flowers, ovate downy capsules, and lance-shaped entire smooth leaves.

The capsules are larger than in any other known species. In the figure they are represented somewhat smaller than the life, but the seed is given as large as life.

Colour plate facing page 224 of 'The Banksia pyriformis.'



3. B. gibbosa. B. dactyloides Gaertn. 221.t. 47. f. 2.?

B. floribus solitariis, capsulis ovatis gibbosis rugosis, foliis teretibus.

Banksia with solitary flowers; ovate, tumid, rugged capsules; and cylindrical leaves.

We suspect this to be the Banksia dactyloides of Gaertner; but, if so, his figure is by no means a good one; as he is generally very accurate, we are rather inclined to believe


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ours a different plant, and have therefore given it a new name. The leaves are very peculiar, being perfectly cylindrical, about two inches long and one line in diameter, pale, green and smooth. The flowers we have not seen.

Colour plate facing page 225 of '1. The Banksia 2. The Banksia gibbosa'



Fig. 1 of the same Plate represents the capsule of another Banksia, belonging to those which bear the flowers in spikes, but we cannot with certainty determine the species. The capsules are smooth, at least when ripe, and a little shining. We think this is neither the B. serrata, integrifolia, nor dentata of Linnæus, nor probably his ericifolia; so that it seems to be a species hitherto undescribed. The leaves and flowers we have not seen.

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