Persoonia glaucescens

Mittagong Persoonia, Geebung

Family: Proteaceae

An erect shrub to 3 metres tall.

It has a restricted natural distribution, growing in the north of the southern highlands and somewhat further to Thirlmere Lakes, south to Fitzroy Falls and west to High Range. It grows in dry sclerophyll woodland and forest on soil enriched with clay and gravel along with laterite, mainly on ridge-tops, plateaus and upper slopes.

It is listed as threatened with extinction in the wild.

Branches and stems are brownish-red with mottling.

Leaves are narrow spathulate to oblanceolate (widest at the tips), to 8 cm long and 2 cm wide, strongly glaucous in colour, especially when young, (a useful feature for identification), and strongly twisted at the base.

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 there are 4 yellow flowers with tepals to 12 mm long, more or less fused at the base, with overall flowers about 2 cm long by 1.5 cm wide, sparsely to moderately hairy. Flowers are erect, mostly subtended by leaves, either solitary or arranged in up to 30-flowered clusters, occurring in summer to autumn.

The fleshy green drupe has purple markings, to about 1 cm long and wide, and contains a single seed.

In the garden

This species is not currently cultivated and no cultivation information is available. This is likely due to its threatened species status. Cultivation may be possible in the future. It grows naturally in full sun to part shade, in moderate rainfall areas on enriched clay loams and gravels.

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.

This species is similar to P. lanceolata and was previously treated as a subspecies of it.

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.

glaucescens  – from the Latin word glaucus meaning ‘blue-grey’ or ‘blue-green’, referring to the glaucous coating on the leaves.

This species is listed as threatened with extinction under both State and Commonwealth legislation, with the category of endangered.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persoonia
https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedSpeciesApp/profile.aspx?id=10593

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

https://apps.lucidcentral.org/plants_se_nsw/text/entities/persoonia_glaucescens.htm

By Jeff Howes, edited by Dan Clarke