Hakea orthorrhyncha

Bird-beak Hakea

Family: Proteaceae

Hakea orthorrhyncha is known as the Bird-beak Hakea is a spreading shrub to 3 metres tall, often wider than tall – spreading several metres wide; posessing a lignotuber.

It is another species endemic to the south-west region of Western Australia, growing generally in an area surrounding Geraldton, south from between Three Springs and Port Denison, northwards to around Tooloonga Nature Reserve.

It forms part of shrublands and heathlands on sandy soils, loam and granite-derived soils.

Leaves are up to 18 cm long by 0.2 cm wide, needle-like (linear and tubular); grey-green to 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, bright red to orange-red flowers are borne in clusters of up to 20, about 3 cm across, on the old wood in autumn and winter. Flowers clusters are often densely bunched along the stems.

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 deep red and turn black as they age, to 6 mm long, with the carpels also red, to about 22 mm long.

The persistent woody follicles are ovoid, to 5 cm long by about 2.5 cm wide, with a prominent pointed beak about 10 mm long.

In the garden

This species is known to be cultivated but not as successfully on the east coast as some of the other hakeas from Western Australia. However, it is reported by some to grow reasonably well in most cases. Tolerant of some humidity and moderate frost.

Author’s notes:

It grows well in full sun but a well-drained soil is essential. Flowering can be sporadic on the east coast. A very attractive shrub worth trying in any garden. Give some room to spread out.

The Bird-beak Hakea would make a colourful, bird-attracting addition to informal native screens and hedges.

Hakea orthorrhyncha takes between 5-7 years before the first flowers appear. This disadvantage may be overcome by propagating cuttings from mature plants. Mature plants may be rejuvenated by coppicing. Our specimen was about six years old before flowers appeared.


Propagate from seed or cuttings. Cuttings of young growth give the best results. A plant grown from may take 8 years to flower.

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.

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).

orthorrhyncha – from Greek orthos (ὀρθῶς) which means “straight” or “erect” and rhynxos (ῥύγχος) which refers to a “beak” or “muzzle” or “snout” – capturing the elongated beak of the fruits of this species.

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

Western Australian Herbarium. Florabase – the Western Australian Flora. Hakea orthorrhyncha profile page https://florabase.dbca.wa.gov.au/browse/profile.php/2192

Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.

Australian Native Plants Society Australia (ANPSA) – Hakea orthorrhyncha profile page https://anpsa.org.au/plant_profiles/hakea-orthorrhyncha

Electronic Flora of South Australia – Hakea orthorrhyncha profile page  http://www.flora.sa.gov.au/efsa/lucid/Hakea/key/Australian%20Hakea%20species/Media/Html/Hakea_orthorrhyncha_var._filiformis.htm

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