Its genus name Banksia is named after Sir Joseph Banks, a British explorer and naturalist, and its species name marginata is from the Latin 'marginatus' meaning bordered, referring to the recurved leaf edges.
A variable species that occurs as a shrub, a flat-lying plant, or a tree, with smooth brown-grey bark. Grows up to 2 m high and wide as a shrub, less than 1 m as a flat-lying plant, and between 5 – 12 m as a tree.
Green on the upper surface and silvery underneath. Each leaf is linear to oblong-shaped, 1 – 8 cm long, 3 – 13 mm wide, and has finely-toothed edges. The edges are recurved (rolled under) and may have small serrations, and their tip can be blunt or squared.
Pale yellow cylindrical spikes forming a bottle-brush shape. Each flower head is 5 – 10 cm long and 4 – 6 cm wide and attracts nectar-eating birds.
Seeds are enclosed in dark brown follicles that are 7 – 17 mm long and are attached to a woody cone that is 15 – 60 mm long. The follicles become hairless as they ripen and usually open when mature.
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