Hakea laurina, the Pincushion Hakea, is a tall shrub that may reach a height of 6 metres, spreading to several metres wide; without a lignotuber.
It is another of the beautiful endemic species in the south-west of Western Australia, growing between Perth, south-east close to Albany and then east to past Esperance to around Cape Arid National Park and slightly further north.
It grows in mallee-shrublands and heathlands, often on sandy soil, sometimes with some clay enrichment.
Leaves are alternate, leathery, narrow-elliptical in shape, up to 20 cm long and up to 3 cm wide, with prominent venation (resembling wattle-phyllodes); mid-green to grey-green in colour.
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 dense, globular heads, up to 4 cm in diameter, consisting of well over 100 small flowers, appearring in late autumn and early winter. The colourful blooms are red and white. 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 perianths are red, to about 8 mm long and the protruding carpels are white, to about 20 mm long, which creates a dramatic combination – with the whole inflorescence resembling a ‘pin-cushion’.
The follicles are grey and egg-shaped and are often produced in clusters – emerging from the one inflorescence, to 4 cm long and about 2.5 cm wide; often smooth and with a short beak.
A very popular hakea that is desired in cultivation. The flowering affect is quite attractive and some pleants can be very showy. Commonly sold at native plant nurseries.
It is reported to be very hardy in the right spot. Best planted in full sun with good air flow, on a well-draining soil. Do not over water. Can be grown on sand to clay loams, if drainage is adequate.
Plants in our cold climate garden (near Armidale) have reached a height of three metres in about eight years.
Honeyeaters are attracted to the flowers. Dubbo, a city in central NSW, uses the Pincushion Hakea as a street tree.
Propagate from seed and possibly cuttings.
The type specimen was collected, in what is now Cape Arid National Park, in 1824.
The species was first grown in Europe in 1830 and is now cultivated in the French Riviera and the USA.
Many western hakeas have blooms as colourful as this species but unfortunately are not well known in general cultivation.
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 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).
laurina – having leaves resembling the genus Laurus – Bay Trees and other laurels (Family: Lauraceae).
This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.
Western Australian Herbarium. Florabase – the Western Australian Flora. Hakea laurina profile page https://florabase.dbca.wa.gov.au/browse/profile/2171
Australian National Herbarium – Hakea laurina profile page https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/gnp2/hakea-laurina.html
Gardening with Angus – Hakea laurina profile page https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/hakea-laurina-pincushion-hakea/
Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.