An upright single-stemmed bushy shrub or small tree, to usually 5 metres tall.
It is common and widespread, usually found on sandy soils in heath, dry sclerophyll forest and woodland, from the northern coast, tablelands and western slopes subdivisions, south through mainly the central and southern tablelands and slopes of NSW and into Victoria.
The branches are smooth, covered in fine hairs.
Leaves are alternate on stems, to 13 cm long and to 2 cm wide, lanceolate to elliptic, to sickle-shaped and are usually widest in the middle, mid-green and tapering to a point with three prominent longitudinal veins above and below, which are paler in colour. The leaf venation is very prominent.
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, inflorescences are produced solitarily in leaf axils, with up to 40 white flowers per cluster, to about 20 mm long and 30 mm wide, white to cream-white in colour, produced mainly in October to November.
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 2 cm long, white-cream in colour with darker yellow tips. The perianths are also white-cream.
The woody follicles (fruits) are to 4 cm long and to 3 cm wide, ending with a sharp short point and with a coating of warts or bumps and with a short beak.
A hardy, quick growing plant, reported to be easy to grow. It will grow successfully in full sun or semi-shaded positions and is able to tolerate extended dry conditions once established. It is reported to be one of the first Australian plants cultivated in England.
The flowers are attractive to honey eating birds as well as bees. It can be pruned to form a nicely rounded shape and to keep it at a desired height. It also displays a very interesting fruit ripening process. The prominent venation of the flowers also creates interest. It does not have the prickly leaves of some other hakeas which may make it more suitable for a garden.
Hakeas are popular ornamental plants in gardens in Australia, and in many locations are as common as grevilleas and banksias. Several hybrids and cultivars have been developed, including ‘Burrendong Beauty’. They are best grown in beds of light soil, which are watered but still well-drained.
Is easily grown from seed without any pre-treatment. Cuttings are a lot more difficult.
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.
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).
dactyloides – the ending -oides indicates a resemblance, in this case to the genus Dactylis (a grass genus) which have species with inflorescences forming fingers in hand-like shapes. The word dactylos is Greek (δάχτυλος) for “finger”. The reference likely refers to the finger-like appearance of the leaves.
This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.
NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Hakea dactyloides profile page https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Hakea~dactyloides
Plants of South East New South Wales – Hakea dactyloides profile page https://apps.lucidcentral.org/plants_se_nsw/text/entities/hakea_dactyloides.htm
Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping, 4th edition. New Holland Publishers Pty Ltd Australia.