Banksia paludosa

Swamp Banksia

Family: Proteaceae

A shrub, usually to about 2 metres tall but can grow to 5 metres. There are some populations without lignotubers.

It is found mainly along the NSW coast, as far north as Glen Davis and Capertee National Park, then south along the central and south coast tableland intersections, down to the far south coast and into Victoria. It grows in dry sclerophyll woodland and heaths, close to swamps and creeks. It can also be found on sandstone ridges.

The leaves are alternate to whorled, somewhat stiff and leathery, Narrow-lanceolate to narrow-obovate, to 13 cm long and 3 cm wide with entire to toothed margins. Olive to blue-green on upper surface and white on under surface, sometimes with with yellow to brown hairs on mid and secondary veins.

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 13 cm long and up to 6 cm wide, with each flower thin but up to 3 cm long, golden brown to golden (a useful identification feature).

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 or a drying out period. Each “cone” can produce a fair amount of seed with this species having follicles to 20 mm long with up to 60 follicles per “cone”.

In the garden

Not as popular as other banksias, but known to be cultivated and is reported to be hardy (see references). It provides a nice architectural form with stiff leathery leaves. The golden flowers are also an attractive feature.

Plant in a sunny spot and allow for drainage. Despite its species name, it is advised to not grow it in wet soils. Many banksias benefit from growing on a slight slope. Do not mulch too heavily and try to keep grass away from the trunk. Very hardy once established. It is excellent for attracting honeyeater and other birds.

Will grow consistently if happy and will form a very nice shrub, to 2 m tall, but can be kept much more compact if pruned. May get sparse and leggy if not pruned. Very suitable for sandy and coastal gardens. Suitable for small gardens.

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

Prune after flowering or harvest cut flowers. Can be shaped into a denser bush if pruned early.

Likely not overly frost tolerant. Very tolerant to coastal salt spray.

Susceptible to Phytophthora and any other root rotting fungus.


Propagation from seed is very reliable and not too difficult.

Other information

This species is very similar to Banksia oblongifolia and Banksia penicillata which also may also grow in the same habitat. B. penicillata is confined to cliffs and steep slopes in the Blue Mountains and so a location and habitat condition could be applied for identification.
B. oblongifolia has yellow to yellow-green inflorescences with the early buds tinged green-blue. Reportedly, B. paludosa does not produce the new red-brown growth of B. oblongifolia.

Two subspecies are currently recognised in NSW:
– subsp. paludosa (to 2 m high with lignotuber present).
– subsp. astrolux (to 5 m tall with no lignotuber present).

This species can regenerate after fire from the seed bank or from epicormic shoots and lignotuber after fire. Some populations do not exhibit a lignotuber.

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)).

paludosa – Latin – growing in marshy or wet places, referring to the habitat that the species is sometimes found in.

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

Gardening with Angus – Banksia paludosa profile page          https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/banksia-paludosa-banksia/

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Banksia paludosa profile 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.

By Dan Clarke