Persoonia lanceolata

Lance-leaf Geebung, Geebung

Family: Proteaceae

An upright spreading shrub, growing to 3 metres tall with a 2-metre spread.

It is found mainly on the coast of NSW, with most records extending south from South-West Rocks but with some outliers further north near Grafton, extending south to east of Bredbo and Cooma, and extending from Sydney to north-east of Lithgow on the Central Tablelands.
It is found usually in coastal shrubland and heath to dry sclerophyll and low open woodland, but can also be found in dry sclerophyll forests, on sandstone and associated sandy deposits.

Has grey bark which is smooth.

Leaves are to 10 cm in length (but usually shorter), and to 4 cm wide, shortly-oblanceolate to oblanceolate or obovate, or narrow spathulate, bright green, with a yellowish tint, somewhat thick and leathery and with a distinctive point or mucro. New growth is hairy.

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, tepals are to 12 mm long, with part of their length fused at the base, sparsely to densely hairy. Each flower is about 15 mm across by 20 mm long. Flowers have been observed to be in clusters of around 5 to 55, subtended by leaves with the inflorescence growing on into a leafy shoot.

The drupes are smooth and fleshy, green and more or less round, measuring 1 cm by 1 cm.

In the garden

This is a very attractive plant but has not really gotten a foothold in cultivation as yet.

It may be more widely cultivated in the future. Plants are difficult to propagate.

It grows on sandstone and sandy soils and so likely needs a well-drained sandy soil in a sunny spot to thrive.

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

It has been observed that the swamp wallaby (Wallabia bicolor) feeds on the fallen fruit of P. lanceolata and disperses the seed through its scat (dung). A field study in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park found that 88% of seeds in the scat were still viable although dormant. Rodents, foxes, large birds and even kangaroos have been noted to eat the drupes and hence spread the plant.

Plantsmen in England were able to germinate seed there in 1791.

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 fruit of this species is edible, but it is best eaten once it has ripened and fallen off.

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

P. lanceolata shrubs, destroyed by bushfire, regenerate through seedlings surviving through the soil seedbank. Studies have found that seedlings germinated within two years of a 1994 bushfire, although some appeared up to six years afterwards.
Hybridises occasionally with Persoonia levis and with Persoonia linearis.

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 honours by James Edward Smith (1759-1828), an English botanist and founder of the Linnean Society.
lanceolata – Latin, meaning “spear-shaped”, and refers to the shape of the leaves.

Not considered at risk in the wild.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persoonia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persoonia_lanceolata
https://apps.lucidcentral.org/plants_se_nsw/text/entities/persoonia_lanceolata.htm
https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Persoonia~lanceolata

By Jeff Howes