A prostrate shrub to about 0.2 metres tall, forming a dense ground layer (carpets) to 1 metre across and growing in colonies.
It has a limited distribution, mainly west and north-west of Sydney, from the Upper Goulburn River Valley, in Hunter Valley bushland, extending south through the Blue Mountains and Woronora Plateau and into the Budawang Range. It is common around Katoomba and Mount Victoria.
It is found on sandy substrates and sandstone in dry sclerophyll forest including communities such as Warkworth Sands Woodland.
Leaves are alternate, to 2 cm long and to 0.1 cm wide, cylindrical (terete), sparsely to moderately hairy when young and losing hairs with maturity.
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, the flowers are yellow to orange to 2 cm wide and about 1.5 cm long, sparsely to densely hairy. Flowers mostly subtended by leaves and produced near the terminals. Flowering occurs October to January.
The drupe is fleshy, to about 1 cm long.
This species is known to be cultivated. Plants may be hard to source but check local nurseries.
It is a hardy, low ground cover plant that will survive well in low-water conditions as it dislikes humid or wet conditions. It is slow growing, making a good low-maintenance plant even under trees in semi shade; otherwise full sun. Requires a free-draining sandy soil.
If grown successfully, it can make a dense ground cover.
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 Bushcare).
Persoonia is a genus of about 100 hundred species, all endemic to Australia, occurring in all states and territories. NSW currently has around 51 species – some of which are species complex with many subspecies taxa, and some which are threatened with extinction.
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.
Likely regenerates from seed after fire.
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.
chamaepitys – derived from the Ancient Greek chamai (χαμαί) meaning ‘ground’ and pitys (Πίτυς) referring to ‘pine’ – which captures the ground-pine appearance of the species.
This species is hard to recognise as a persoonia at first sight.
This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.
Australian National Herbarium – Persoonia chamaepitys profile page https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/interns-2005/persoonia-chamaepitys.html
Gardening with Angus – Persoonia chamaepitys profile page https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/persoonia-chamaepitys-mountain-geebung/
NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Persoonia chamaepitys profile page https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Persoonia~chamaepitys