Photo   I.Holliday

Photo   W.R.Barker

Photo   W.R.Barker


Hakea commutata F.Muell., Fragm. 5: 26 (1865)

Based on Hakea nodosa Meisn., in J.G.C.Lehmann, Pl. Preiss. 1: 555 (1845), nom. illeg. non R.Br.

T: prope planitiem arenosam Quangen Victoria [near Wongamine], W.A., 20 Mar. 1840, L.Preiss 606; syn: G-DC, LD, LE, NY p.p.; Swan River, s.d., J.Drummond 5: 412; syn: BM p.p., G, K p.p., LE, MEL, NY p.p., TCD; without locality, s.d., J.Gilbert s.n.; syn: NY p.p.

Images of the NY type specimens of Preiss 606, Drummond 412 and Gilbert can be seen on the New York Botanical Garden site.


Straggly or dense rigid shrub, 0.6–3 m tall, lignotuberous. Branchlets glabrous. Leaves 1–3.5 cm long, 1–1.7 mm wide, glabrous or sparsely hirsute, papillose, glaucous; mucro 0.7–1.4 mm long.

Inflorescence predominantly terminal, occasionally axillary, with 8–12 flowers; involucre c. 2.5 mm long; rachis 1–3 mm long, white-hirsute; pedicels 2.5–6.2 mm long, red, glabrous; buds curved. Perianth 3.3–5 mm long, cream-white to yellow, ?tinged red at base, glabrous. Pistil 7.5–11.5 mm long; pollen presenter oblique.

Fruit obliquely elliptic, 2–3.2 cm long, 1.1–1.7 cm wide, finely rugose, obliquely beaked; apiculum c. 1 mm long; horns obscure. Seed 13.5–19 mm long; wing broadly and partly down one side of seed body only, black or dark brown.

Distribution and ecology

Occurs in south-western W.A. in the Toodyay and Jitarning areas to Fitzgerald River National Park and east to Cape Arid National Park, in mallee heaths or mallee on laterite, sand, clay or granite.

To plot an up to date distribution map based on herbarium collections for this species see Australia's Virtual Herbarium. Localities outside the native range may represent cultivated or naturalised records.

Flowering time

Flowers Sept.–Nov. (–Dec).

Derivation of name

Commutata is the latin for "with change" and possibly refers to the mistaken belief of Meisner that the leave of this species are variable in form. In erroneously assigning this species to to the eastern Australian H. nodosa, Meisner commented on the fact that like other species of Hakea, such as H. teretifolia, leaves could be terete or flattened. This is correct for the true H. nodosa R.Br. but it is not correct for this species. In giving the species a new name, Mueller adopted an epithet alluding to a characteristic which this species does not possess.



Part of Section Hakea of Bentham (as Euhakea) and characterised by a non-conical pollen presenter, leaves without obvious venation, perianths with or without hairs and fruits with or without horns. Barker et al. (1999) recognised a number of informal morphological groups within the section.

H. commutata is part of the Strumosa group, a group close to the Sericea and Nodosa groups and held together by the sharing of simple terete leaves, terminal or axillary inflorescences (if the latter these resprouting in subsequent seasons), glabrous pedicel and perianth and woody, smooth or verrucose, fruits with horns. Other species in the group include H. bicornata, H. circumalata, H. cycloptera, H. newbeyana,  H. preissii, H. strumosa and H. vittata.


The flowers of H. commutata are unpleasantly scented, described as smelling like dirty socks. The leaves are all arranged on one side of a branch, and have a narrowed yellow base.

Representative specimens

Western Australia: between Rabbit Fence and Newdegate, W.E.Blackall 1273 (PERTH); Phillips R., Nov. 1944, C.A.Gardner s.n. (PERTH); 11 km N of Mt Madden, A.S.George 7284 (PERTH); on Balladonia road, S of Mt Ragged, R.D.Royce 10089 (PERTH); 3.2 km NW of Ongerup, K.Newbey 3018 (PERTH).


Link to FloraBase treatment of this species for WA.


For further information and images of this species in the Esperance region of Western Australia see William Archer’s Hakea page in Esperance Wildflowers


More photographs of this species can be seen on the Australian National Botanic Gardens site.

Further illustrations

J.Young, Hakeas of W. Australia, Botanical District of Avon 14, 36 (1997).

I. Holliday, Hakeas. A Field and Garden Guide 42-43 (2005)

J.A..Young, Hakeas of Western Australia. A Field and Identification Guide 26 (2006)