Introduction

Call me Parrot Bush

Call me Parrot Bush

Family: Proteaceae

Noongar Name: Pudjak, Budjan

Banksia sessilis (syn. Dryandra sessilis)

Common Name: Parrot Bush

 

Banksia sessilis is a prickly upright shrub or small tree that typically grows from five to eight metres in height. It occurs naturally in the southwest of Western Australia from Kalbarri in the north, along the coast to Bremer Bay in the south, and inland to Wongan Hills and Kulin. It grows in a range of soils from coastal limestone and granite outcrops to inland sands (white, grey or yellow) and rust red laterite.

As the name suggests, Parrot Bush is often an understorey plant in open forest, woodland or shrubland. It has prickly-toothed holly-like leaves and dome-shaped cream to golden yellow flowerheads that are situated at the end of a stem. The flowers appear in abundance from April to November (Djeran to Kambarang). The leaves are blue-green or dark green in colour.

The shape of leaves differs by variety: they may be wedge-shaped with teeth only near the apex; or wedge-shaped with teeth along the entire margin; or broad at the base, almost oblong-shaped. Four varieties of the species have been identified. Banksia sessilis var. cygnorum occurs in coastal regions from Geraldton to Mandurah and is common in Kings Park bushland and Bold Park.

The life cycle of the Parrot Bush is adapted to regular bushfires. Burnt by fire and regenerating by seed afterwards, each shrub may produce many flowerheads and massive amounts of seed. It can recolonise disturbed areas quickly and grow in thickets.

Parrot Bush is a great plant for attracting birds and bees. It provides food and shelter to birds and fauna. It is a great cover and nesting habitat for honeyeaters and quendas dig their burrows in the shelter of the bush. The seeds are eaten by parrots and black cockatoos, including the endangered Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo. The species diversity is severely reduced in areas where little or no parrot bush occurs.

The plant contributes majorly to WA’s honey production. Its flowers were traditionally chewed by the Nyungar people for their sweet nectar and taste, making them a great substitute for honey. The wood from the plant was used to make message sticks that allowed different tribes to communicate.

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