Banksia collina

Hairpin Banksia

Family: Proteaceae

Typically, a multi-stemmed shrub to 3 m tall, bearing a lignotuber.

It grows mostly north of Sydney on the central and north coast subdivisions, extending onto the central and northern tablelands. It is widespread in heath and dry sclerophyll forest and woodland, usually on sandy soils and sandstone outcrops but may also occur on other soil types.

The leaves are alternate to spiral; linear to oblanceolate, to 10 cm long and only 1 cm wide, green to dark green in colour and are toothed uniformly for most of their length. Lower surface is paler and hairy.

The inflorescences of Banksias are generally referred to as spikes or a spike-like structure which consists of fused racemes of paired flowers (hence it gets referred to as a conflorescence). There can be 100s of flowers in each spike. The flowers of banksias have 4 tepals (petals or sepals) in a tubular formation, 4 anthers hidden inside and an elongated carpel (female part) where the style extends outwards forming the edge of the spike (somewhat similar to individual grevillea and hakea flowers).

In this species, the spikes are generally to 15 cm long (sometimes longer) and about 6 cm wide, with each flower thin but up to 3 cm long, orange to yellow-orange in colour. The styles (female part of flower) can be a vivid dark red to purple-black and hooked at the apex (very similar to B. spinulosa).

The spike then turns into a cone-like structure of follicles; a fruit which splits open on one side. Each follicle has one or two winged seeds which is actually a fruit in itself called a samara. The follicles can take a long time to mature and open, usually needing a fire. Each “cone” can produce a fair amount of seed with this species having up to 100 follicles per “cone”, each up to 25 mm long.

In the garden

Possibly not readily available for cultivation. However, if this species is desired to be cultivated, growers can pick B. spinulosa and get the same effect (see B. spinulosa profile). It may be able to be sourced from nurseries in the areas where it grows. The cultivars in the references below may still be relevant as they may well have come from B. collina heritage.

Slow growing but will grow consistently if happy and will form a very nice shrub after a few years. May grow to 2 m tall in a garden (although this will take time) so allow some space. Very suitable for sandstone-outcrop gardens. There are also a wide range of smaller forms. Plant in a well-drained soil for best results – sandy to loam. Most banksias thrive if planted on a slight slope.

Do not apply a high phosphorus fertiliser as Proteaceae are generally sensitive.

Prune after flowering or harvest cut flowers. Can be trained into a denser shape with periodic pruning.

Some cultivars have the potential to produce many spikes, creating a dramatic effect.

Susceptible to Phytophthora and any other root rotting fungus.


Propagation from seed is very reliable and not too difficult. Cuttings are also possible.

Other information

This species has historically been a part of the Banksia spinulosa complex with a range of forms and variety exhibited. A PhD study was undertaken by Margaret Stimpson who raised the variety ranks of the complex to separate species:
Banksia collina
– Banksia cunninghamii
– Banksia neoanglica
– Banksia vincentia

Intermediates between all of these taxa still occur.
B. collina is differentiated from B. spinulosa by having longer and wider leaves which are regularly toothed. The leaves are also flat rather than having their margins turned in towards the underside (recurved) which obscures the lower surface. The cultivars in the references below may still be relevant as they may well have come from B. collina heritage.

Can regenerate from seed bank after fire very readily, as well as, epicormic shoots and a lignotuber below ground.

Banksia is a now a genus of about 170 species (with the inclusion of the genus Dryandra) occurring in Australia but also 1 species in New Guinea and the Aru Islands Regency. NSW currently has about 16 species.

Banksia – named in honour of Joseph Banks (1743 – 1820), famous naturalist and botanist on the Endeavour and other expeditions, and President of the Royal Society for over 40 years. The genus was named in his honour by Linnaeus filius (Carl von Lynne – the Younger, son of the famous Carl von Lynne (Linneaus)).

collina – Latin meaning “hill”, referring to the hilly habitats on which this species is typically found.

This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Banksia collina profile page                https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Banksia~collina

Wikipedia – Banksia collina profile page              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banksia_spinulosa_var._collina

All Natives Nursery – Banksia collina sales page

Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia (see varieties of Banksia spinulosa).

By Dan Clarke