Flowering branch. Photo © E.A.George

Flowers - note the conical pollen presenter and the bud coloration. Photo © E.A.George

Leaves and closed fruits. Photo © W.R.Barker

Leaves and open fruit, indicating lack of woodiness. Photo © W.R.Barker


Hakea ruscifolia Labill., Nov. Holl. Pl. 1: 30, t. 39 (1805)

Conchium ruscifolium (Labill.) Willd., Enum. Pl. 141 (1809). T: in terra Van-Leuwin, [Western Australia], without date, J.Labillardière s.n.; syn: FI n.v., P (microfiche seen), W.


Shrub, 1–2 m tall, lignotuberous. Branchlets densely villous. Leaves very crowded, erect, arranged in cylindrical whorls about stem, oblanceolate or spathulate, 1.2–3.2 cm long, 3–10 mm wide, attenuate or rounded, entire, densely velutinous with longer hairs or densely hirsute, becoming scabrous above.

Inflorescence with 20–36 flowers; involucre 6–7 mm long; rachis 2–3.5 mm long, densely villous; pedicels 5–8 mm long. Perianth 2.2–3.5 mm long, white. Pistil 4–7 mm long; pollen presenter an erect cone.

Fruit ovate, 1.5–2 cm long, 0.7–0.9 cm wide, finely rugose, glabrous or pubescent. Seed elliptic, 15–18 mm long; wing narrowly and fully down both sides of seed body.

Distribution and ecology

A common species in south-western Western Australia from Jurien Bay south to Cape Arid. Occurs in coastal sand heath, Banksia attenuata sand plain, open heath on laterite and Jarrah forest.

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 mainly Dec.–Jan., sporadically in other months.

Derivation of name

From ruscum, Latin for butcher's broom and folius, Latin for leaf. Possibly a reference to the appearance of this plant, but this is uncertain since the word was not used in the protologue by Labillardiere.



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.

Despite it having a conical pollen presenter, H. ruscifolia was treated by Bentham as part of Sect. Hakea. The later described H. aculeata has an oblique pollen presenter. Both species have flat leaves without any obvious venation and both have fruits which are not particularly woody and not retained for long on the plant. The seed covers almost the whole valve face and so the nature of the fruits would suggest a relationship close to the Prostrata (flat leaves) and Microcarpa (terete leaves) groups.


This species is variable in leaf shape, as shown by Meisner annotating material in his own herbarium as 'petiolata' (Preiss 613), 'vulgaris' (Preiss 611) with sessile leaves and 'obovata' (Preiss 614), all based on the leaf shape. However, these were apparently not published and there appear to be no supporting characters to justify their recognition.

Representative specimens

Western Australia: N of Gingin, J.S.Beard 2478 (PERTH); on cliff-top, Windy Harbour, A.S.George 2326 (PERTH); Tuttanning Reserve, SE of Pingelly, A.S.George 9803 (PERTH); 3.2 km W of Jarrahwood, J.W.Green 405 (PERTH); Coomallo Ck, R.Hnatiuk 761406 (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

A.S.George, Introd. Proteaceae W. Australia 73, pl. 105 (1984);

W.R.Elliot & D.L.Jones, Encycl. Austral. Pl. 5: 230 (1990);

J.Young, Hakeas of W. Australia, Botanical District of Avon 22, 97 (1997)

I. Holliday, Hakeas. A Field and Garden Guide 186-7 (2005)

J.A..Young, Hakeas of Western Australia. A Field and Identification Guide 102 (2006).