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. 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.

Propagation

From seed which is commercially available.

Other information

Hakea is a genus of about 150 species of plants that are endemic to Australia. Was first described in 1788 by Joseph Gaertner, a German botanist.

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

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.

Not considered at risk in the wild.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hakea

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hakea_microcarpa

https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Hakea~microcarpa

By Warren and Gloria Sheather; additions Jeff Howes, Dan Clarke