Hakea microcarpa

Small-fruited Hakea

Family: Proteaceae

A shrub growing to 2 metres tall and often as wide, with cream-white flowers.

It has a wide distribution on the east coast and ranges of Australia from Stanthorpe in SE Queensland, down along the tablelands and western slopes to Tasmania, where it grows in subalpine bogs, or in forest or woodland in damp sites. In swampy areas, Hakea microcarpa is usually taller than other plants, and in the flowering season stands like white beacons above the surrounding vegetation.

The leaves are needle-shaped / terete (circular in cross-section), to about 10 cm long and about 2 mm wide, with a sharp point. Sometimes plants carry a few flat leaves.

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 loose clusters in the leaf axils, with up to 40 flowers per cluster, cream-white in colour, primarily from September to February.

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, flowers are about 20 mm long overall and cream-white in colour.

The woody follicle is oblong in shape, to 20 mm long and 1 cm wide with a small beak to 3 mm length each side. Inside there are two winged seeds. The wings aid seed dispersal in being carried by the wind.

In the garden

Not commonly cultivated at present but can be grown if plants can be sourced. It is a very attractive shrub which can flower prolifically.

Ideal for wet areas in sun to part-shade as it acts as a tall ground cover. Also provides shade and shelter for small birds. Flowers attract various insects.

Prune to achieve a desired shape and improve density. Suitable for swampy and boggy areas.

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 which is commercially available.

Other information

The type was collected at Port Dalrymple, Tasmania in 1804 and named in 1810.

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).

microcarpa – is a derived from the Greek words mikros (μικρός) meaning ‘small’ and karpos (καρπός) meaning ‘fruit’, referring to the small fruit.

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

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

Wikipedia – Hakea microcarpa profile page                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hakea_microcarpa

By Warren and Gloria Sheather; additional text Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke