Persoonia nutans

Nodding Geebung

Family: Proteaceae

An erect to spreading shrub to 1.5 metres tall by 1 metre wide, usually with arching branches.

It is restricted to the Cumberland Plain in western Sydney, between Richmond in the north and Macquarie Fields in the south. There are large populations in Londonderry and Castlereagh. It grows in vegetation communities such as Shale Gravel Transition Forest, Cooks River Castlereagh Ironbark Forest and Agnes Banks Woodland, usually on alluvial gravels.

It is a listed threatened species in NSW.

Has smooth bark and young branchlets are red with greyish hairs. Leaves are arranged alternately, linear, to 50 mm long and to 2 mm wide with the edges curved downwards.

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 flowers are typically produced in leaf axils, forming leafy raceme-like groups, each flower on a nodding pedicel to 12 mm. Flowering occurs from November to April.

The fruit is a green drupe with purple markings, about 1 cm long.

In the garden

Not readily available for cultivation due to its threatened status and difficulties with propagation. It would make a nice plant in the garden if plants could be sourced. It may become available for cultivation in the future.


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).

Other information

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.

An obligate seeder after fire, regenerating from seedbank. Seed germination is promoted by fire and also by physical disturbance.

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.

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.

nutans – from Latin nutans, meaning “nodding”, referring to the pendulous arrangement of the flowers.

This species is listed as threatened with extinction in the wild, at the State and Commonwealth level, with the category of Endangered.

NSW Office of Environment and Heritage – Threatened Species Profiles – Persoonia nutans profile page

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

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke