Banksia cuneata

Banksia cuneata, commonly known as the Matchstick Banksia or Quairading Banksia, is an endangered species in the plant family Proteaceae. Endemic to south west Western Australia, it belongs to the subgenus Banksia subg. Isostylis, a grouping of three closely related Banksia species that are unusual in having inflorescences that are dome-shaped heads rather than characteristic Banksia flower spikes.

The Matchstick Banksia grows as a shrub or small tree up to five metres high. It has one or more main stems with smooth grey bark, and many branches. The leaves are wedge shaped, from one to four centimetres long, dull green in colour, with serrated edges. The dome-shaped flower heads consist of numerous long thin flowers, which go through three colour phases, being initially pink, then cream, then finally red. Each flower has a thick green "pollen-presenter" on the end, which in appearance is similar to a match head. The fruit are follicles which remain embedded in the woody base of the flower head.

An endangered species, the Matchstick Banksia occurs only over a 90 kilometre range around Pingelly and Quairading. It favours deep yellow sand at elevations between 230 and 300 metres, in woodland habitat.

The Matchstick Banksia was declared critically endangered after a 1982 survey found only about 300 specimens, the majority of which were under threat. In April 1987, Western Australia's Department of Environment and Conservation burnt part of one population in an experimental regeneration fire. The mature plants were killed, and the seedlings that volunteered did not survive the summer drought. However since then more plants have been located, and populations have been found to be gradually increasing in response to a number of conservation measures including fencing and baiting of rabbits. In recognition of its slight recovery, it is now considered endangered but no longer critically so.

The Matchstick Banksia was first collected by Alex George east of Quairading on 20 November 1971, and first published by him in George (1981). No subspecies are recognised.


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