Sunday, 29 December 2013

Banksia cuneata - the "Matchbook" Plant

"Banksia cuneata 'Matchsticks'", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

The Banksia cuneata or Matchstick Banksia is a large shrub or small tree growing up to 5 m.  Flowers are at first pink, then turn cream and finally reddish; they are borne in cone-like clusters with prickly foliage.  The common name Matchstick Banksia arises from the blooms in late bud, the individual buds of which resemble matchsticks. The species is pollinated by honeyeaters, a bird native to Australia, New Zealand and other islands of the southern Pacific.
Several branches of the Banksia cuneata shrub

The plant was named after Sir Joseph Banks, giving us the name: Banksia. Sir Joseph was the first European botanist to collect samples of this plant as he travelled with Captain Cook in 1770.  The wedge-shaped leaf provided the feature which led to the Latin term cuneata.
Once this plant grew plentifully throughout certain regions of Australia, particularly southwest Western Australia.

Banksia cuneata is classified as endangered, surviving in fragments of remnant bushland in a region which has been 93% cleared for agriculture. Actually, Banksia cuneata was declared as Rare Flora in 1982 under the Western Australian Wildlife Conservation Act, 1950 and is currently ranked as Endangered under the World Conservation Union due to there being less than 2500 mature plants in the wild and severe fragmentation of populations which are showing a continuing decline.
A Banksia cuneata shrub/small tree growing
in isolation on farmland

Banksia cuneata is rarely cultivated, and its prickly foliage limits its utility in the cut flower industry.

Most interesting to me was the archaeological data. The archaeological evidence suggests that banksias or Banksia-like plants have existed for over 40 million years. The first humans to discover and make use of Banksia plants were the Australian aborigines who used the nectar from the flowers as part of their diet. The first Europeans to observe Banksias were probably Dutch explorers who made several landfalls along the West Australian coast during the 17th and early 18th centuries. No botanical collections were made, however, until the discovery of the east coast of Australia by Captain James Cook in the Endeavour in April 1770. Accompanying Cook were botanists Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander who collected many new species at Botany Bay, including the plant which today we know as Banksia cuneata!



Unfortunately, I ran out of Christmas cards in those final days prior to the 25th -- and I still needed to send a few more cards to those kind friends who always remember me with a card.

I decided to do something "cute" rather than serious and I want to share the resulting illustration with you.  

The wording on this cover read "Not a creature was stirring" at the top and "not even a mouse"
at the bottom.  Suki was, of course, my model for the cat.  Thankfully, I was able to draw the mouse with just a suggestion of its "mouseiness" without having to get a real mouse as a model!!



Her Royal-ness!  That look says:
"Is it time to eat again? -- if not why are you
making all that noise and waking me up?"
Well, Suki had a so-so Christmas.  She received several toys from friends of mine (and hers), but after playing with them for a short time, she showed no more interest in them.  She did get some extra food -- this pleased her very much and seems to have made her believe that she is always going to get extra food from now on!  I am slowly demonstrating to her that this is not the case.  She did enjoy playing with the wrapping paper for a while and even crawled inside a gift bag -- which she then attacked from the inside, completely destroying it!  But when I asked her on Boxing Day whether she had enjoyed her Christmas, she yawned - twice!  Of course, I am not sure that the yawn signified an answer as she often yawns when I ask her a question -- unless I say "Suki -- food time!" 

Actually, the most exciting thing that happened to Suki during these days of Christmas actually occurred yesterday, Saturday.  Braden came to visit us!  I gave him his gifts and while he really seemed to like the truck and car I gave him, he was much more entranced with Suki!

During the two hours he was here, he could only ignore Suki for a few minutes at a time.  Otherwise, Braden was either looking at the cat, rubbing Suki's head under the supervision of his father or trying to give Suki a hug.  This latter effort was, thankfully, avoided by the vigilance of myself and Braden's father.  I really have no idea what Suki would have done if this little boy had grabbed her around the mid-section and given her a big squeeze!

Interestingly, Suki was very patient with Braden.  She never once growled or showed any intention of scratching.  She actually allowed him to pester her for almost the entire time of the visit without showing any real distress or anger at all.  At once point, Suki did make a run for the bedroom where she sat under the bed for a while, but then she came back into the living room and allowed Braden to pet her head and stroke her back.  It was really something to see and I must say, I am really proud of Suki.

I would love to have a photo of the two of them, but, unfortunately, Braden's father had dropped his smart phone twice recently and its picture taking ability has been greatly diminished.  Hopefully, there will be many other opportunities to get a photo of Braden and Suki in the near future.

Most importantly, Braden did not exhibit any of the normal symptoms of an allergic reaction to cat dander while he was here. This makes me hopeful that he will be able to enjoy peoples' pets as he grows up.  I haven't had a report from his parents since the family returned home, but I am hoping that Braden did not suffer any ill effects.

Braden's visit was the highlight of my Christmas as well.  I was really disappointed that the ice storm kept me from gathering with his family for Christmas celebrations on the 22nd.  Maybe things will work out next year.

This being the Christmas holidays, I haven't had any doctors' visits over the past week and there won't be any until after the New Year. My problems continue unabated so this most recent medication I was given doesn't seem to be making any difference.  I am managing all right, however.


So, now,  let me wish all those who will read this column over the next few days a Happy New Year.  I pray that 2014 will be a better year for us all.  May we all experience renewed health and an increase of joy in our lives.  Most of all, may we all experience that peace which God alone can give.  Without Him as my anchor, I would never feel safe in this chaotic world of ours.  So let me say it once again HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

This design came to me by way of a friend's birthday card.
I feel it graphically expresses my sentiments when I say:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hopefully Suki is well behaved on this our New Years Eve.