Have you ever heard of the big, bad Banksia men?
They are the scoundrels of the Australian bush in the stories of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, the gumnut babies created by May Gibbs in 1918. They are actually the cones of Banksia serrata and form after the plant has flowered. When I saw my first Banksia flower I was captivated. It was so beautiful – the pale golden petals looked so fragile and ethereal.
Then I saw older flowers, even more stunning in their rich coats of bronze. I just couldn’t believe that anyone would envisage these gorgeous blooms as villains.
But when I saw these aging cones it didn’t take much for my imagination to go wild. Now I could see what May Gibbs saw when she called them ugly, wicked little men.
In her stories they scared the gumnut babies and all the bush creatures, and even I was a little intimidated by their hairy, grey faces and dry, spiky bodies.
I think I’ll stick to reading about them. It’s safer that way!