Banksia Verticillata

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Banksia Verticillata

Banksia verticillata, commonly known as Granite Banksia or Albany Banksia, is a species of shrub or (rarely) tree of the genus Banksia in the Proteaceae family. It is native to the southwest of Western Australia and can reach up to 3 m (10 ft) in height. It can grow taller to 5 m (15 ft) in sheltered areas, and much smaller in more exposed areas. This species has elliptic green leaves and large, bright golden yellow inflorescences or flower spikes, appearing in summer and autumn. The New Holland Honeyeater (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae) is the most prominent pollinator, although several other species of honeyeater, as well as bees, visit the flower spikes.

A declared Vulnerable species, it occurs in two disjunct populations on granite outcrops along the south coast of Western Australia, with the main population near Albany and a smaller population near Walpole, and is threatened by dieback (Phytophthora cinnamomi) and aerial canker (Zythiostroma). Banksia verticillata is killed by bushfire and new plants regenerate from seed afterwards. Populations take over a decade to produce seed and fire intervals of greater than twenty years are needed to allow the canopy seed bank to accumulate.

The earliest known botanical collection of B. verticillata was made by Scottish surgeon and naturalist Archibald Menzies during the visit of the Vancouver Expedition to King George Sound in September and October 1791. As a result of this collection the species was introduced into cultivation in England, yet it did not result in formal publication of the species.

The next known collection was in December 1801, during the visit of HMS Investigator to King George Sound. Little is known of the circumstances of this collection, other than what is written on the specimen label: "King Georges Sound Decr1801". The specimen is credited to Robert Brown, but gardener Peter Good and the botanical artist Ferdinand Bauer also contributed to Brown's specimen collection, often without attribution. A more precise date and location cannot be given, as neither Brown nor Good mentions the collection in his diary. Bauer did not publish an illustration of the species and his original field sketches are lost, but William Westall appears to have incorporated it into two of his field sketches, and certainly included it in the foreground of one of the oil paintings that he later worked up for the Admiralty.

Brown formally described and named the species in his 1810 On the Proteaceae of Jussieu. He did not identify a type specimen, but the one specimen in his collection has since been formally declared the lectotype for the species. He also did not explicitly give an etymology for the specific epithet, but it is accepted that the name derives from the Latin verticillatus ("whorled"), in reference to the whorled leaf arrangement.

No subspecies or varieties of Banksia verticillata have been identified; it has no taxonomic synonyms; and its only nomenclatural synonym is Sirmuellera verticillata (R.Br.) Kuntze, which arose from Otto Kuntze's unsuccessful 1891 attempt to replace Banksia with the new name Sirmuellera.

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