Australian members of the Proteaceae family are well known and popular in cultivation.
Many varieties of banksias, grevilleas and hakeas are represented in local gardens.
This time we will concentrate on the hakeas. Firstly, we will describe some species from eastern Australia and in the future some Western Australian hakeas will be featured.
Hakeas, in general, grow into medium to tall shrubs. Their flowers are rich in nectar and are usually held in clusters. Honeyeaters are attracted to the blooms.
Hakea flowers resemble the blooms of grevilleas in their structure. A major difference, between the two groups, is in their fruits. Grevillea fruits release their seeds as soon as they mature.
In the case of hakeas they have substantial woody fruits that persist on the plant until the plants are either damaged in some way or burnt in a bushfire. After either of these catastrophes the woody fruits open and released two winged seeds.
Hakea flowers resemble the blooms of grevilleas in their structure.
Collecting seeds for propagation only requires removing the woody fruits from the plant and after about a fortnight, the fruits will open and release the seeds. Hakea seeds germinate readily without prior treatment before sowing. The shape and appearance of the fruit is one of the characteristics used for species identification.
Hakea eriantha is a tall shrub that will reach a height of four to five metres. The linear leaves are glossy and up to 18cm long. The flowers are white and held in clusters at the base of the leaves. Flowering occurs in spring when branches become covered in flowers.
Large clumps of woody fruits follow the flowers. They have a smooth surface crowned with a short beak. In our garden, yellow-tailed black cockatoos break open the fruits and extract the seeds. They favour this species in preference to the other hakeas we are growing. Hakea eriantha is common in bushland to the east of Armidale.
Hakea nodosa is a dense shrub reaching a maximum height of 3m. The leaves are needle-like with a sharp point. Flowers are bright yellow and cover the branches between May and August. The fruits are covered with rounded lumps.
This is a very attractive hakea especially during the flowering period. This species is common in Tasmania.
Hakea macrorhyncha and Hakea ochroptera are both tall shrubs with narrow leaves. Horticulturally, these hakeas are almost identical.
Botanically, there are differences in the leaf texture and the shape and appearance of the woody fruits. The former comes from the Torrington area whilst the latter is found in the Dorrigo National Park.
In spring, all the branches are covered with masses of white flowers. In both species, blooms are both profuse and conspicious. The woody fruits, that follow the flowers are also attractive features. Both hakeas are considered to be rare with limited distribution.
An interesting avenue could be created by alternate planting of these two hakeas.
These are some hakeas from eastern Australia. In the future we will describe some of the magnificent hakeas from Western Australia.
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