With leathery foliage and large cylindrical flowers Banksia serrata is commonly called ‘Old man Banksia’ as well as ‘Saw Toothed Banksia’. This is a slow growing species, very long lived as the common name suggests, and great for coastal conditions.
The new flower cones emerge green before turning to cream with tinges of red to pink.
It naturally grows in a range of conditions, and these conditions determine its size. In coastal condition it can be low growing’ and the named variety ‘Pygmy Possum) is an example of a low growing or prostrate form.
In more protected positions, inland it can grow to be a small tree, reaching to 10 – 15 metres in height.
The leaves are serrated on the edges, glossy green and attractive. The trunk will grow to form a twisted gnarled look over time.
Banksia serrata may take a few years to flower. However like all Banksia species the large creamy green cones attract a range of nectar seeking birds and insects to the garden. The flowers form hard woody fruits, the fruits contain the seeds and the seeds are winged.
The seeds are released by heat, so fire is a natural method, placing the seed cone in an oven for around 1 hour at around 140C is another.
Propagation is also possible from hardwood cuttings.
Various parts of the Banksia flower are said to be edible, used to make tea or have medicinal uses.