Hakea actites

Wallum Hakea /

Family: Proteaceae

Hakea actites, Wallum Hakea, is a small to tall shrub, potentially reaching 5 metres tall with a spread of 1 to 2 metres, with a lignotuber.

It only grows naturally on the North Coast botanical subdivision of NSW, north from around Woolgoolga, in disjunct patches to about Woodburn; then extending into Queensland, close to the coast, growing as far north as Agnes Water (between Bundaberg and Gladstone).

It grows in heathland as well as coastal scrublands / shrublands, and dry sclerophyll forests and woodlands, on sands including wallum sands and swampy sites.

The leaves are cylindrical, heavily clustered on stems in a spiral arrangement, light green, up to 100 mm long, to 1.5 mm in diameter, and crowned with a sharp point.

A hakea inflorescence is technically a cluster of paired flowers, termed a conflorescence (although sometimes the paired flowers are not evident) with the overall structure forming a clustered-raceme-like appearance. The inflorescences are always produced in the leaf axils, as opposed to the closely related Grevillea where they are mostly terminal. They can appear as a spider-flower-like cluster, or a rounded ball where flowers emerge around a 360° radius, or as a cylindrical raceme (which strongly resemble those of Grevillea).

In this species, the flowers are in axillary clusters composed of 1-6 white flowers. Blooms appear from May to September when they are both conspicuous and profuse. Individual flowers are composed of 1 carpel (female part) where the style and stigma protrude out; 4 stamens hidden away in the perianth; and the perianth (petals and sepals collectively) which connects to a pedicel. Proteaceae flowers do not have any discernible petals or sepals (having only one whorl) and so these are referred to as ‘tepals’ of which there are 4. In this species, the perianth is about 4 mm long and the carpel is about 8 mm long.

Flowers are followed by follicles. These are hard and woody, egg-shaped, to 35 mm long and 25 mm wide, wrinkled but without warty lumps and containing the usual two winged-seeds.

In the garden

A species which is known to be propagated and sold. It is sued in cultivation and in bushland regeneration projects.

The prickly foliage this would provide shelter and nesting sites for small native birds. The species is often found growing in swampy situations. This makes H. actites a useful plant to grow in domestic wet areas.

Best planted in full sun to part shade on a well-drained sandy soil.


Propagate from seed.

Other information

Hakea actites is similar in appearance to the better known H. sericea. The main difference is in the smoother surface of the fruit. Hakea actites also occupies wetter habitats than H. sericea.

The specimen, in the photo, was growing in the North Coast Regional Botanic Garden, Coffs Harbour NSW.

The fruit of Hakea spp. generally persist on plants until burned in a bushfire or until the plant dies. The fruit then splits open to release two winged seeds.

This species also has a lignotuber from which it can re-sprout after fire.

Hakea – named after Baron Christian Ludwig von Hake (Baron von Hake of Hanover, 1745-1818), an 18th-century German patron of botany (and for whom not a lot of information can be found).

actites – Greek – akti (ακτή) – meaning “coast” or “seaside” with aktites meaning “coast-dweller” – referring to the coastal habitat of the species. Hakea actites was named in 1996 by W. T. Barker from material collected near Angourie, a town on the North Coast of NSW.

This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Hakea actites profile page             https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Hakea~actites

Central Queensland Coast Landcare Network – Hakea actites profile page  https://cqclandcarenetwork.org.au/plants/wallum-hakea

By Warren and Gloria Sheather. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke