Photo W.R.Barker

Photo I.Holliday


Hakea leucoptera R.Br., Trans. Linn. Soc. London 10: 180 (1810) subsp. leucoptera

T: Flinders Land, ad margines sylvarum prope radices montium, [Bay XII, S.A.], R.Brown; syn: BM, E, K.

Hakea virgata R.Br., Suppl. Prodr. Fl. Nov. Holl. 26 (1830). T: Harrington's Plains, Lachlan River, N.S.W., [28 June] 1817, A.Cunningham ?32; syn: BM, K.

Hakea stricta F.Muell. ex Meisn., Linnaea 26: 360 (1854). T: North-West Ba[e]nd, Murray River, s.d., F.Mueller s.n.; holo: NY; iso: BM, MEL.An image of the NY type specimen can be seen on the New York Botanical Garden site.

Hakea florigera Gand., Bull. Soc. Bot. France 66: 229 (1919). T: Mt Lyndhurst, S.A., M.Koch 80; lecto: LY, fide D.J.McGillivray, Contr. New South Wales Natl. Herb. 4: 341 (1973); isolecto: AD, BRI, LY, NSW.

?Hakea leucocephala R.Br. ex D.Dietr., Syn. Pl. Enum. Syst. 1: 531 (1839), ?misreading of leucoptera. T: 'in Nov. Holl.'; holo: not located.

[Hakea glabriflora auct. non Gand.: M.Gandoger, Bull. Soc. Bot. France 66: 229 (1919), p.p. (as to specimens marked A, C & D on lectotype sheet in LY)]

[Hakea kippistiana auct. non Kippist & Meisn.: J.M.Black, Fl. S. Australia 2nd edn, 2: 265 (1948)]

[Hakea leucoptera var. kippistiana auct. non (Kippist & Meisn.) F.Muell.: J.M.Black, Fl. S. Australia 2nd edn, 2: 265 (1948), pro syn.]


Small shrub or tree 1–8 m high, resprouting from base. Branchlets pubescent, glabrescent. Leaves terete, not grooved, 3.5–10 cm long, 1.3–2 mm wide, white-pubescent, glabrescent; apex porrect or uncinate, with mucro 1.5–5.5 mm long.

Inflorescence of 18–45 flowers; rachis simple, or with 1 or 2 basal buds, 6–14 mm long, white woolly-pubescent; pedicels 2–6.5 mm long; pedicel and perianth glabrous or sparsely to moderately densely short-tomentose. Perianth 3–4.5 mm long. Pistil 7–11 mm long.

Fruit 1.7–3.2 cm long, 1–2 cm wide, smooth, sometimes sparsely pusticulate; horns obscure. Seed with wing decurrent half to fully down one side, not to very shortly down other, cream to brown-white, sometimes darker at base.

Distribution and ecology

Occurs in central and south-eastern arid and semi-arid Australia in all mainland States and Territories except W.A. and A.C.T., in a wide range of grasslands, shrublands and woodlands, in sandy to clay soil.

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 predominantly Oct.–Dec., more sporadic records in other months.

Derivation of name

From leuco, Greek for white and ptero, Greek for wing, a reference to the pale wing on the seed of this species.


How the infraspecific taxa differ

The two subspecies differ only in the nature of the hairs on the rachis of the inflorescence, those of ssp. leucoptera being white woolly pubescent (raised), while those of ssp. sericipes are shining white or brown and appressed (not raised).


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. leucoptera was treated as part of the Sericea group, a predominantly eastern states group characterised by their simple terete leaves, few-flowered inflorescences, hairy pedicels and solitary, prominently woody fruits, these often markedly verrucose or pusticulate and usually with horns.

Other members of the group are H. actites, H. constablei, H. decurrens, H. gibbosa, H. kippistiana, H. lissosperma, H. macraeana, H. macrorrhyncha, H. ochroptera, H. sericea and H. tephrosperma, predominantly from the eastern states of Australia.  


Hakea leucoptera and H. tephrosperma are often confused. Initially they can often be distinguished by the mucro, curved in H. tephrosperma and usually porrect in H. leucoptera. H. tephrosperma also has a shorter floral rachis with rust-coloured hairs, and the pedicel and perianth are densely appressed-pubescent with rust and white hairs, while H. leucoptera has a longer floral rachis, often persistent after the flowers have fallen, and the pedicel and perianth are often glabrous. Pubescent flowers in H. leucoptera seem to be confined to S.A. and N.T., and even there in mature flowers it is often only the pedicel and limb of the perianth which have sparse or moderately dense raised white hairs; buds are covered all over with hairs.

Representative specimens

N.T.: 32 km SE of Longwood HS, R.E.Winkworth 663 (BRI, CANB, DNA). S.A.: 18 km E of Curdimurka, L. Eyre South, F.Badman 219 (AD, HO, LSU, MEL, SIU). Qld: c. 95 km S of Nappamerry HS, 16 Aug. 1962, G.E.Gardiner s.n. (AD). N.S.W.: Yamba Stn, 78 km by road W of Wanaaring, E.F.Constable 4586 (DNA, NSW). Vic.: S shore of Rocket L., SW of Mildura, D.J.Cummings 172 et al. (CANB, MEL).


Link to PlantNET treatment.


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


Link to Maiden’s Forest Flora of New South Wales vol. 6, pl. 198 for an account and image of this species.


Further illustrations

G.M.Cunningham et al., Pl. W. New South Wales 217 (1981)

I. Holliday, Hakeas. A Field and Garden Guide 108-9 (2005