Hakea bucculenta

Red Pokers

Family: Proteaceae

A large shrub to 4 metres tall by 2 metres wide.

It is a native of Western Australia, growing on the coast between Geraldton and Hamelin Pool (Shark Bay), on sandplains and flats in heathy scrub and shrublands.

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 inflorescences are very much like a Grevillea inflorescence, cylindrical, to 15 cm long, with flowers emerging around a 360° radius, red to red-orange in colour, flowering from May to October.

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 carpels are to 25 mm long, red to red-orange in colour. The perianths are also red-orange. The overall affect is that of a cylindrical-flowering grevillea hybrid.

Fruit is a follicle, to 25 mm long and 15 mm wide, with swollen sides.

In the garden

A very popular hakea on the east cost due to its striking red-orange inflorescences and it has been cultivated for several decades. It can be temperamental but can be successfully grown over years. Prefers a well-drained sandy soil and protection from high winds which may unsettle the roots, causing quick death.

Plant in a sunny spot for best results and it is best to intermingle it with other shrubs. It is frost resistant and drought tolerant but will benefit from light watering in dry times, and some appropriate fertiliser in spring.

Prune lightly to encourage form and structure as well as flowering. Can be shaped into a nice dense vase-shaped bush. Mulch lightly.


Propagated from seed. In cultivation, fruits may be seldom produced.

Other information

Hakea is a genus of about 150 species of plants that are endemic to Australia, first described in 1788 by Joseph Gaertner, a German botanist. NSW currently has about 31 species, some which are species-complex.

Hakeas are similar to species of Grevillea but are distinguished from them in having persistent, woody fruits. Those of grevilleas are not persistent and not woody.

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 likely regenerates from seed after fire as it does not have a lignotuber.

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).

bucculenta – Latin, bucca– means ‘cheek’ and likely refers to the swollen sides of the follicles resembling a person enlarging their facial cheeks.

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

Western Australian Herbarium: Florabase – the Western Australian Flora –                                      Hakea bucculenta profile page https://florabase.dpaw.wa.gov.au/browse/profile/2135

Australian National Herbarium – Hakea bucculenta profile page https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/gnp12/hakea-bucculenta.html

Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.

By Dan Clarke