Plants of
South Australia
Banksia ornata
Desert banksia
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock paintings: 3.


Banksia named after Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), a 19th century botanist and president of the Royal Society who travelled with Captain Cook on his first voyage to 'New Holland' in 1770. Ornata Latin for adorned, ornate.

Distribution and status

Found across the lower regions of South Australia, south of Nuriootpa and lower Eyre Peninsula on sandy soils on dunes or over limestone or laterite, in mallee shrubland or low woodland. Also found in Victoria. Native. Common in South Australia. Common in Victoria.
Herbarium regions: Eyre Peninsula, Murray, Southern Lofty, Kangaroo Island, South Eastern
NRM regions: Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Eyre Peninsula, Kangaroo Island, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin, South East
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Bushy, branching shrub to 3m tall with green, hairless and finely serrated leaves. Young leaves are hairy and copper coloured. Flowers are creamy in a large ovoid cluster. Flowering occurs all year round. Fruits are large, hairy, woody cones with numerous valves. Seeds are dark brown to black, flat, triangular seed to 10mm long with a large wing around one end. Seed embryo type is investing.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between January and December. Collect mature cones with obvious un-open valves. These will contain viable seeds. Place the cones in a tray and leave to dry until the valves open. Alternatively, place the cones in an oven at low temperatures to speed up the process. Then place the dried cones in a bucket and shake to dislodge the seeds from the valves. Separate the seeds from the fruit and store the seeds with a desiccant such as dried silica beads or dry rice, in an air tight container in a cool and dry place. From one collection, the seed viability was high, at 80%. Seeds are non-dormant, viable seed should germinate readily.

Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage
1,775 (43.8 g)
1,775 (43.8 g)
Kangaroo Island
1-Sep-200480%+5°C, -18°C
Location: BGA — the seeds are stored at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, MSB — the seeds are stored at the Millennium Seed Bank, Kew, England.
Number of plants: This is the number of plants from which the seeds were collected.
Collection location: The Herbarium of South Australia's region name.
% Viability: Percentage of filled healthy seeds determined by a cut test or x-ray.
Germination table: