Hakea dohertyi

Kowmung Hakea

Family: Proteaceae

An erect shrub to 6 metres tall, with a narrow habit, without a lignotuber.

It is confined to a small area in the Kowmung Valley in Kanangra Boyd National Park of NSW. It grows in dry sclerophyll forest on ridges. It is listed as being threatened with extinction. Up to 7000 plants are known to have existed at one stage have been counted. Additional small populations occur in the Bindook area and at Tonalli Cove on Lake Burragorang in NSW.

The smaller branches are covered with densely matted, silky hairs

Leaves are long, flexuous and thin, to 40 cm long in some cases, but only 0.2 cm wide, smooth and ending in a sharp point, mid to dark green, and clustered at short intervals along the stems.

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 occur as small clusters/racemes of up to 6 flowers in leaf axils, about 1 cm across by 1 cm long, cream-white in colour.

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. The carpels are to about 1 cm long with perianth shorter. Both are cream-white.

The woody follicle grows at an angle to the stem, to 3 cm long and 2 cm wide, ending with a beak.

In the garden

There are no known cultivation details for this one as it is an endangered species. It may be able to be grown if plants could legally be sourced. It may come into cultivation in the future. A website was found (at time of writing) where seeds could be purchased. However, caution is advised when purchasing seeds of legally protected plants.

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.


From seed.

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.

This species is an obligate seeder without a lignotuber. It can live for many years. 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.

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.

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).

dohertyi – named after NSW ecologist and botanist Michael Doherty who discovered the species, who at the time of writing, operates Eucryphia Botanical Consulting.

This species is listed as threatened with extinction in the wild, at both the State and Commonwealth level with the category of Endangered.

NSW Office of Environment and Heritage – Threatened Species Profiles – Hakea dohertyi profile page https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedSpeciesApp/profile.aspx?id=10388

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

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke