Hakea platysperma, the Cricket Ball Hakea, is a single stemmed spreading shrub reaching a height of 2-3 metres, to about 2 metres wide.
It is another endemic to the south-west region of Western Australia, found from north of Geraldton, in a south-east arc to around Corrigin and Hyden (east of Perth), and north of hear to around Goldfields Woodlands National Park.
It forms part of mallee shrublands and heathlands on sandy soil and sandy clays, sometimes on laterite.
The leaves are thick, linear and circular in cross section (terete), up to 15 cm long by only 0.3 cm wide, rigid and sharply pointed.
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 are held in axillary clusters, about 3 cm across, with 1-7 flowers, carried on both old and new wood. Blooms are cream or slightly reddish, said to be sweetly perfumed.
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 tinged pink and cream, about 6 mm long, with the carpels to 17 mm long, often green to yellow.
The woody follicles are the eye-catching feature of this species. They are globular, up to seven centimetres in diameter and hold two circular seeds about three centimetres in diameter. The common name is an apt description. A description of the fruit in 1842 likens them to castanets. This species has the largest fruits of any in the genus.
A plant that is known to be grown and desired in gardens. Check with native nurseries for availability. It could be sourced by purchasing seed.
The fruit is the most interesting feature and very ornamental.
It grows well in a sunny spot on a well-drained soil. Reported to be hardy.
Honeyeaters are attracted to the flowers as are native wasps.
Propagate from seed.
Cultivated plants in USA attract hummingbirds to the blooms.
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).
platysperma – from Greek platys (πλατύς) – usually meaning “flat and broad” and –sperma (σπέρμα) – meaning seed – referring to the broad-flat seeds of the species.
This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.
Western Australian Herbarium. Florabase – the Western Australian Flora – Hakea platysperma profile page https://florabase.dbca.wa.gov.au/browse/profile/2195
Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.
Electronic Flora of South Australia – Hakea platysperma profile page http://www.flora.sa.gov.au/efsa/lucid/Hakea/key/Australian%20Hakea%20species/Media/Html/Hakea_platysperma.htm