Persoonia acerosa

Needle Geebung

Family: Proteaceae

An erect to spreading shrub, to 2 metres tall and about 1 metre wide, with smooth bark.

Its occurrence is limited mainly to the Blue Mountains, between Blaxland and Katoomba and further south to Hill Top and up to Blackheath, Lithgow and Mount Tomah.

It grows in dry sclerophyll woodland and forest as well as low woodland / scrubby heath on low fertility sandy soils.

It is currently threatened with extinction in the wild.

Leaves are linear and needle-like, to 25 mm long and to 1 mm wide, and channelled on the upper surface, bright green in colour.

Persoonia flowers are typically produced either solitarily, or, in a raceme-like arrangement which can grow on into a leafy shoot. The flower structure is very similar to genera such as Hakea and Grevillea; a perianth of 4 tepals (either sepals or petals) is at the base, 4 stamens which rise above the perianth (the anther bases can be fused to the tepals or free), surrounding one carpel (female part); almost always yellow in colour.

In this species, flower clusters are produced along leafy shoots, not at the branch tips, as in related species. The yellow tubular flowers are up to 1 cm long and most frequently appear in summer.

The fruit is a drupe (fleshy plum-like) which is pear-shaped, yellow-green with brownish-red markings, to 15 mm long and 10 mm in wide.

In the garden

Currently this species is not cultivated. It may be propagated and grown in the future with NSW Government threatened species cultivation actions. Not much is known about its cultivation potential.

Grows naturally on sandy soils / sandstone and so may need a well-drained soil to thrive.


Generally difficult from seed or cuttings and seed needs to be scarified and sown as soon as fresh. Propagation of Persoonia species is becoming more common in nurseries and working with the seeds has attracted many amateur attempts, but with large amounts of resulting frustration.

There is advice that the outer fruit coating (the exocarp) needs to be clipped to open it up, and then the seed put into a solution containing the plant propagation hormone GA (Giberellic Acid) for several hours to days. This will trigger the seed to germinate.

Other techniques include putting fruits in a bag with potting mix for 12 months and storing in a glass house / propagation shed, then clean and sand the fruits and then sow, with germination taking another 6 months (information from Sutherland Shire Council).

Other information

Persoonia is a genus of about one hundred species, all of which are endemic to Australia,

It is reported that the fruit can be eaten raw or cooked, succulent but astringent. The fruit has a sweet fibrous pulp that is fixed to one large seed. It tastes somewhat like sweet cotton wool and is relished by First Nations Peoples of Australia.

The term ‘geebung’ is derived from the Dharug language word geebung, while the Wiradjuri term was jibbong.

This species hybridises occasionally with Persoonia levis and Persoonia myrtilloides subsp. myrtilloides where they grow together.

Plants are likely to be killed by fire and recruitment is solely from seed.

Persoonia – named after Christiaan Hendrik Persoon (1761-1836), a South African botanist and mycologist who is most well-known for describing mushroom species. The genus was named in his honour by James Edward Smith (1759-1828), an English botanist and founder of the Linnean Society.

acerosa – from Latin acus (‘needle’) – needle-shaped, having a sharp, rigid point, as in the leaf of a pine.

It is listed as threatened with extinction in the wild under both State and Commonwealth legislation with the category of vulnerable.

NSW Office of Environment and Heritage – Threatened Species Profiles – Persoonia acerosa profile page https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedSpeciesApp/profile.aspx?id=10591

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

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

By Jeff Howes, edited by Dan Clarke