Habit, Harrismith W Reserve, WA. Photo I. Holliday

Leaves, inflorescences and fruit. Photo I. Holliday

Leaves, inflorescences and fruit. Photo I. Holliday


Hakea cygna Lamont, in B.Lamont et al., J. Linn. Soc., Bot. 94: 439 (1987) subsp. cygna

T: 13.6 km S of Lake Grace, W.A., 29 Sept. 1972, B.Lamont s.n.; holo: PERTH n.v.

By citing H. ulicina R.Br. as a synonym of this taxon, Lamont et al., loc. cit., prima facie rendered H. cygna illegitimate. However, it seems from the introduction to their paper that what was intended was merely to draw attention to Bentham's (1879) misapplication of the name H. falcata to a specimen of H. ulicina in K. In the interests of nomenclatural stability the intent in the introduction has been preferred over the unintentional formal synonymy.


Erect shrub, 0.4–2 m tall, non-sprouting. Branchlets densely sericeous at flowering. Leaves flat and thick, narrowly obovate to linear, 2–7.5 cm long, 2.5–9 mm wide, glabrous; marginal veins prominent; longitudinal veins 1–3, obscure above, faintly visible below.

Inflorescences a solitary axillary umbelliform raceme, with 6–14 flowers; pedicels cream white, glabrous, rarely appressed-pubescent. Perianth cream-white. Pistil 5.5–7 mm long; gland a small flap, c. 0.5 mm high.

Fruit shortly stalked, with supporting branch usually markedly thickened, obliquely ovate-elliptic, 2.1–3.7 cm long, 1.2–2 cm wide, scarcely beaked but ±prominently apiculate. Seed obliquely broadly ovate (almost triangular) to obliquely circular, 12–20 mm long; wing encircling the ±centred body, pale brown with blackish brown radiating streaks.

Distribution and ecology

Of wide occurrence in inland south-western W.A., from near Geraldton south-east to Ravensthorpe and east to Cape Arid; grows in sand to sandy loam soil often of lateritic origin, in heath or mallee-heath.

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 July to October.

Derivation of name

From cygna, Latin for swan, a reference to the shape of the fruit resembling the body of a duck or swan.


How the infraspecific taxa differ

Ssp. needlei differs from ssp. cygna only in its narrow needle-like leaves and its confinement to a small area south of Lake King.


Part of the Conogynoides group recognised by Bentham and characterised by a conical pollen presenter, veined leaves, glabrous perianth and fruits without horns. Barker et al. (1999) recognised a number of informal morphological groups within the section.


One of these was the Ulicina group. This group of 21 Hakea species was combined morphologically because they all have simple flat leaves or leaves which are apparently terete but when looked at in cross section are clearly angled; these angled leaves are longitudinally furrowed and often referred to as sulcate. Furthermore the group has inflorescences with 6-80 small flowers (with 3-18 mm long pistils) and erect woody fruits.  

Members of the group are H. aenigma, H. carinata, H. costata, H. cygna, H. dohertyi, H. erecta, H. gilbertii, H. invaginata, H. lehmanniana, H. marginata, H. meisneriana, H. mitchellii, H. myrtoides, H. pycnoneura, H. repullulans, H. rigida, H. scoparia, H. stenocarpa, H. sulcata, H. subsulcata and H. ulicina, mostly from southern WA but also from south-eastern Australia.  


The white-flowered 'first collection' referred to by Wrigley & Fagg, op. cit. p. 411, under H. sp. nov. aff. falcata appears to be H. cygna subsp. cygna.

Representative specimens

W.A.: c. 31 km by road due E of Pedarah on road to Holt Rock, W.R.Barker 2476 (AD, MEL, PERTH); 17 km from Bindi Bindi along road to Piawaning, B.Barnsley 932 (CANB, L, PERTH); N of Wongan Hills, 13 Sept. 1968, E.M.Canning s.n. (CANB, PERTH); c. 26 km N of Hyden along road to Anderson Rocks, L.Haegi 2634 (AD, MEL, PERTH); Kukerin, M.Koch 2196 (NSW, PERTH).


Link to FloraBase treatment of this species for WA.


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


Further illustrations

I. Holliday, Hakeas. A Field and Garden Guide 60-61 (2005)

J.A..Young, Hakeas of Western Australia. A Field and Identification Guide 34 (2006)