Grevillea banksii

Grevillea or Kahiliflower

Pink blossoms look like strange birds..they are in tall clumps on a ferny shrub in the communal backyard on Henry St. What is this thing? The foliage was divided, with long, narrow, leathery leafs. I dissected a flower and found no petals or sepals or filaments, just four fleshy curled under tepals (?) containing the anthers at their ends. The ovary was fuzzy and light green, and the pistle bright red and tucked in to the coil of tepals at first, then as they unfurled it popped out and extended far beyond the rest of the flower. The effect of a whole infloresence of these was of soft spinyness..which I guess makes sense now that I know it’s in the protea family, Proteaceae.

Later, during the final course of progressive thanksgiving, (Wine-poached pears, persimmon pudding and home-made vanilla ice cream,) our hostess told me the name of this exotic flower. We played games and drank Muscat and Port.

And now, days later, all I could remember was it wasn’t a name I was too familiar with, it wasn’t made up of common words, that is it was a plant name…it started with a ‘G’, I think…
I asked M. if he remembered, no, but he started looking online, feeling around in the dark. After a little while he gave up, and I was still searching the same way: “pink, shrub, California”, “zone 9, bird-like flowers, evergreen.” Then I went to Cistus website and looked up on Google images all the ‘G’ names I didn’t know off-hand. And just a few tries later, Grevillea!!

It is Native to Australia, and named, like so many plants, in honor of Sir Joseph Banks. It is attractive to birds. In parts of Hawai’i where it was introduced as an ornamental it is very invasive.

Besides this flower, another exciting thing I learned abou in San francisco was the vegan store Otsu. Located in the Mission district, they sell handmade, mostly local 100% vegan shoes, belts, purses, books and things. They also have a publishing company that supports the vision of vegan/vegetarian artists, it’s called Little Otsu Publishing. They have an online store: Otsu

About Mulysa

I love my work as a landscape designer and artist. When I'm not planning homesteads or working in the studio, you'll find me hiking, photographing, gardening, baking, cooking vegetarian meals with friends, reading and working on sustainability issues...with my baby on my hip in Portland, Oregon.
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