Persoonia chamaepitys

Mountain Geebung, Geebung

Family: Proteaceae

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.

In the garden

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.

Propagation

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.

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 Australian First Nations People.

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 meaning ‘ground’ and pitys referring to its ‘pine’ – which captures the ground-pine look of the species. It is hard to recognise it as a persoonia at first sight.

Not considered at risk in the wild.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persoonia

https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/persoonia-chamaepitys-mountain-geebung/
https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/interns-2005/persoonia-chamaepitys.html
https://apps.lucidcentral.org/plants_se_nsw/text/entities/persoonia_chamaepitys.htm

By Jeff Howes, edited by Dan Clarke