Hibbertia scandens

Climbing Guinea Flower

Family: Dilleniaceae

Hibbertia scandens is a vigorous climber with stems that may reach five metres in length.

It is found mainly in coastal areas in NSW, extending into the northern tablelands and slightly into the central tablelands. It grows along the entirety of the NSW Coast and most of the Queensland coast (the latter somehwat disjunctly) as far north as Cape York. It also grows in the far north-east of Victoria.

It is found in habitats such as coastal dune forest, wet sclerophyll woodlands and forests and well as coastal shrublands and heathlands. It often grows on sandy soils.

Hibbertia have simple leaves which are alternate for the vast majority of species. In this species, leaves are obovate to ovate, to 90 mm long and 30 mm wide, dull green above and silky-hairy beneath with a slightly-fleshy texture.

Hibbertia have bright yellow 5-petaled flowers which are mostly produced solitarily, either at the terminals of leaf axils. Flowers are bisexual and can have a few to many stamens and up to 5 carpels. In this species, the flowers are comparitively large – about 7 cm across, bright yellow and solitary with many stamens (30 or more). Sporadic flowering occurs throughout the year.

Hibbertia produce fruit as follicles. In this species, they are about 2 cm long, ripening to red-brown.

In the garden

The Climbing Guinea Flower is a versatile plant as well as being a dense climber it is often grown as a ground cover and will cover embankments.

This species is commonly cultivated, and is able to grow in a wide range of condition but will flower at its best if grown in full sun. It has been used successfully in traffic islands and roundabouts as well as large landscapes.

The large golden yellow flowers that appear in spring and summer, complement the glossy green leaves very well to make an attractive climber.

After the flowers finish they are followed by attractive red fruits and these seeds are reported to be slow to germinate.

Author’s note:

I have trained this plant to grow up and over a narrow trellis outside a bedroom window (see photo) and it is performing well as it is not too vigorous and only needs minimal training and pruning. I have found out, over the years that many native and non-native climbers are too vigorous for smallish areas, as they grow far too fast to reach the sun and all growth is at the top, usually not where you would like it to be.


Propagate from cuttings that strike readily.

Every now and again, I have a bunch of seedlings growing from under my plant, so germination does occur naturally in the home garden, if you are patient. The easiest way to obtain new plants is by cuttings which gives good results.

Other information

This species was introduced into England in 1790 as H. volubilis.

For the stamp collector, it is worth noting that Hibbertia scandens appeared on an Australian postage stamp in 1999.

Hibbertias are commonly known as Guinea Flowers and this name refers to the resemblance of the flower shape and colour to the ancient Golden Guinea coin.

In researching this article, I found reference to the fact that the yellow flowers have been reported as having an unpleasant odour. I have not noticed this, however.

The species was first formally described in 1799 by German botanist Carl Willdenow who gave it the name Dillenia scandens. In 1805, Swedish botanist Jonas Dryander transferred the species into the genus Hibbertia.

The Hibbertia genus or Guinea Flowers are common throughout the Australian bush. There are about 115 species and 110 of these are endemic. They are one of the most notoriously taxonomically difficult groups in Australia, with many similar species and many new ones being discovered in recent times. Around 5 species, all considered threatened with extinction, have been found in the Sydney-area alone over the last 30 years. NSW currently has about 68 species with a fair few of these having subspecies and considered to be species-complex.

They have colourful yellow flowers but unfortunately not many species are in cultivation.

This species readily regenerated after fire from the seedbank and reshooting root-systems.

Hibbertia – named after George Hibbert (1757-1837) – an English merchant, politician, slave-owner and amateur botanist who took a keen interest in botanical discoveries and gardening.

scandens – Latin meaning “climbing”.

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

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Hibbertia scandens profile page    https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Hibbertia%7Escandens

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

Gardening with Angus – Hibbertia scandens profile page https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/hibbertia-scandens-snake-vine/

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