Hakea propinqua

Family: Proteaceae

A shrub to 2 metres tall usually but can reach 5 metres, spreading to over 2 metres wide.

It is naturally found in a small area around Sydney, with records from around Kandos, south to Lithgow, Katoomba and then east to Sydney, south to around Appin.

The leaves are thin and needle-like / tubular (acicular-terete) to 3 cm long, and only 0.1 cm wide, ending with a sharp tip about 1 mm long, generally prickly and also odorous.

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 leaf axils, with usually about 5 flowers per cluster, to 10 mm long by 20 mm wide, pale yellow or white in colour.

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 carpels are to 10 mm long, white to yellow in colour. The perianths are also white to yellow.

The follicle is covered in warty protuberances and is egg-shaped to elliptical, to 5 cm long and to 3 cm wide ending, with two small horns.

In the garden

A hakea that is not often grown but has a history of being cultivated. It is reported to be hardy and can be grown successfully. It needs a well-drained soil which can be sandy or heavier. Plants can suffer in wet periods over summer if the location is not right.

Makes a good screen plant and the sharp points on the leaves provides protection for the nests of some smaller species of birds. Lends strongly to bird habitats. Can be pruned into a dense bun-shape and can flower heavily. Prefers an open sunny spot. Suited to dry slopes.

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.


Readily from seed which is available commercially.

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.

Two forms have been informally recognised:

  • A Blue Mountains form: low growing to 2 metres with the older leaves thicker and longer with creamy-yellow flowers.
  • A coastal form, a large shrub with branches close to the ground, within 30 cm, giving an overall rounded appearance, with red stems and the outer branches arching.

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).

propinqua – Latin meaning ‘close’ or ‘near’ (propinquum translates to ‘neighbourhood’) referring to Alan Cunningham’s thoughts that it was very similar to Hakea nodosa, a Victorian species.

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

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

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 National Herbarium – Hakea propinqua profile page    https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/gnp5/hak-prop.html

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke