Grevillea banksii, known by various common names including Red silky oak, Dwarf silky oak, Banks' grevillea, Byfield waratah and, in Hawaii, Kahili flower or Kahili tree is a plant of the large genus Grevillea in the diverse family Proteaceae. Native to Queensland, it has been a popular garden plant for many years though has been superseded somewhat horticulturally by smaller and more floriferous hybrids. A white-flowered form G. banksii fo. albiflora is known as white silky oak.
It is a tall, slender or spreading shrub, or small tree up to 7 m (23 ft) high. Its leaves are pinnate with 3-11 deeply divided, linear to lanceolate segments 5–10 cm (2–4 in) long and 1 cm wide, with curled-back margins. Flowers are bright red or creamy-white, in clusters up to 15 cm (6 in) long. It flowers for most of the year, but mainly in winter and spring.
Distribution and habitat
Various forms of Grevillea banksii have been in cultivation for many decades, however it is less seen now than previously as it has been replaced by smaller, more compact, hybrids such as G. 'Robyn Gordon' and G.' Superb'. These newer plants are more compact and have longer flowering periods and are more in demand in the era of the shrinking garden.
Grevillea 'Ruby red' is a prostrate red flowering form of uncertain origin which is in cultivation, often grafted onto Grevillea robusta.
However, it has left a rich horticultural legacy, being one of the parents of G. 'Robyn Gordon', which has been one of the most commercially successful garden plants in Australian horticultural history. It is also parent of other garden plants Grevillea 'Honey Gem', G. 'Superb', G. 'Misty Pink', G. 'Pink Surprise', and possibly G. 'Moonlight'.
Toxicity and allergic reactions
- Everist, S.L., Poisonous Plants of Australia, Angus & Robertson, 1974.
- Menz, J., Rossi, R., Taylor, W.C, Wall, L., Contact dermatitis from Grevillea'Robyn Gordon', Contact Dermatitis, Vol. 15, Iss. 3, pp 126-131, Apr 2006
- Olde, Peter; Marriott, Neil (1995). The Grevillea Book, vol 2. Sydney: Kangaroo Press. ISBN 0-86417-326-1.
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