Banksia ashbyi is the northernmost of all banksias in Western Australia. It occurs in two forms. In the northern part of its range down to Shark Bay, it is a lignotuberous shrub to 2 metres in height and grows on red sand dunes near the coast. Further south, it is a non-lignotuberous shub or small tree to 8 metres tall. These plants are fire-sensitive and rely on seed for regeneration. It is not known whether the changes between forms geographically are gradual or sudden.
Apart from habit, both forms of Banksia ashbyi have similar features. The leaves are linear, about 200-300 mm long by 30 mm wide and have deeply serrated margins. The cylindrical flower spikes are conspicuous as they occur at the end of the branches (terminal). They are orange in colour about 150 mm long by 80 mm diameter and occur in late winter to spring. The seeds are enclosed in follicles attached to a woody cone and are generally retained within the cone until burnt.
B.ashbyi is an outstanding ornamental species and ideal for cut flower production due to its bright coloured, terminal flowers. It is suited to cultivation in areas with a dry summer climate but is difficult to maintain in areas of high summer humidity. It requires well drained soils in full sun to light shade and tolerates at least moderate frost. Like all banksias, it is excellent for attracting honey eating birds.
Propagation of from seed is relatively easy but cuttings may be difficult to strike.
Photo: Keith Townsend
Photo: George Waters