Hakea laevipes

Finger Hakea

Family: Proteaceae

An erect and bushy shrub to 3 metres tall, possessing a lignotuber.

It is found growing in eastern NSW, in disjunct locations on the western slopes, tablelands and coastal areas, in the far North, greater Sydney area, and down the far south coast. It grows on sandy soils in dry sclerophyll forest, woodland and heath. It also grows in south-east Qld.

Branchlets are dark brown due to a coating of hairs.

Leaves are lanceolate to obovate/spathulate, straight to falcate, to 12 cm long and to 3 cm wide, with 3 to 5 prominent pale longitudinal veins with conspicuous secondary veins.

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 in clusters in the leaf axils, with up to 50 flowers per cluster, to 20 mm long by 40 mm wide, cream-white in colour, primarily from October to January.

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 20 mm long, white-cream in colour. The perianths are also white-cream.

The fruit are egg-shaped (ovoid) to 30 mm long and to 25 mm wide with a rough warty surface, not-beaked or with a short beak.

In the garden

Hakea laevipes subsp. laevipes is cultivated in gardens and is sold as a small shrub to 1 metre high by 1.5 metres wide with bronze new growth.

Prefers well-drained sandy soils, in part or filtered sun. May be a useful screen plant. Responds well to pruning after fruiting or flowering. Can be cut back hard as it reshoots from a lignotuber.

Useful for dry open gardens and hot sites. May not be an easy plant to source from nurseries and may be more readily available from bushcare nurseries.

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

There are two subspecies in NSW currently recognised:

Hakea laevipes subsp. graniticola which occurs in north-eastern New South Wales and south-eastern Queensland often in higher altitudes of the Great Dividing Range; and

Hakea laevipes subsp. laevipes which occurs over the rest of the range.

The two taxa differ in the presence/absence of hairs on the flower stalks (pedicels).

This species is very similar to Hakea dactyloides and the former has been lumped in with the latter by some botanists. They are very similar and the main difference is the presence of the lignotuber, as well as the former being a smaller plant generally.

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.

Regenerates from the lignotuber after fire. Can likely regenerate from the seed bank as well.

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).

laevipes – derived from the Latin words leevis meaning ‘smooth’ and pes meaning ‘foot’, referring to the glabrous (hairless) flower-pedicels. Unfortunately, this is not an accurate description for most plants, as they have hairy pedicels. However, subsp. graniticola does have this feature.

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

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

Plants of South East NSW – Hakea laevipes profile page https://apps.lucidcentral.org/plants_se_nsw/text/entities/hakea_laevipes_subsp._laevipes.htm

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke