Wikipedia had the following information which I found far more descriptive than my 2 plant encyclopaedias…………..
Banksia, commonly known as Australian honeysuckles, are a genus of around 170 species. These Australian Wildflowers and popular garden plants are easily recognised by their characteristic flower spikes and fruiting “cones” and heads. Banksias range in size from prostrate woody shrubs to trees up to 30 metres tall. They are found in a wide variety of landscapes; sclerophyll forest, (occasionally) rainforest, shrubland, and some more arid landscapes, though not in Australia’s deserts.
Heavy producers of nectar, banksias are a vital part of the food chain in the Australian bush. They are an important food source for all sorts of nectarivorous animals, including birds, bats, rats, possums, stingless bees and a host of invertebrates. Furthermore, they are of economic importance to Australia’s nursery and cut flower industries. However these plants are threatened by a number of processes including land clearing, frequent burning and disease, and a number of species are rare and endangered.