Habit, W Victoria. Photo W.R.Barker

Buds and young growth. Photo W.R.Barker

Note the recurved apices on the leaves. Photo W.R.Barker

Inflorescences; note rusty hairs on rachis. Photo W.R.Barker

Young rusty growth and young fruits. Photo W.R.Barker

Young rusty growth and mature fruits. Photo W.R.Barker

Fruits, open and closed. Photo W.R.Barker


Hakea tephrosperma R.Br., Suppl. Prodr. Fl. Nov. Holl. 26 (1830)

T: New South Wales, [June] 1817, A.Cunningham 33 & C.Fraser s.n. (Oxley's 1st Expedition); syn: BM, ?K; Field's Plains, [Lachlan River], N.S.W., s.d. [1817], A.Cunningham s.n.; ?isosyn: K; Harrington's Plains, Lachlan River, N.S.W., 28 June 1817, A.Cunningham s.n.; ?isosyn: K.

[Conchium drupaceum auct. non C.F.Gaertn.: C.D.F.Meisner, in A.L.P.P. de Candolle, Prodr. 14: 402 (1856) pro syn.]

[Hakea leucoptera auct. non R.Br.: G.Bentham, Fl. Austral. 5: 515 (1870)]

[Hakea pampliniana auct. non Kippist: G.Bentham, Fl. Austral. 5: 507 (1870), p.p. at least as to specimens from Murray desert in Herb. Mueller; J.H.Maiden, Forest Fl. New South Wales 6: 83 (1915) pro syn.]

[Hakea vittata auct. non R.Br.: J.H.Maiden, Forest Fl. New South Wales 6: 83, pl. 206 (1915); J.H.Willis, Handbook Pl. Victoria 2: 50 (1973)]


Shrub or small tree 1–8 m high, resprouting from base. Branchlets ferruginous appressed-pubescent to ±woolly-ferruginous over white-tomentose. Leaves terete, not grooved, 3–8 cm long, 1–1.5 (–1.8) mm wide, wholly glabrescent; apex strongly uncinate, with mucro 0.8–2 mm long.

Inflorescence of 6–22 flowers; rachis simple, 1–3 mm long, densely ferruginous appressed-pubescent; pedicels 3.5–7 mm long; pedicel and perianth white and ferruginous appressed-pubescent. Perianth 5–6 mm long. Pistil 7–10 mm long.

Fruit 2–3 cm long, 1.5–2 cm wide, smooth, sometimes pusticulate; horns blunt, usually conspicuous, to 2 mm long. Seed 14–20 mm long, 7–8.5 mm wide; wing decurrent c. 1/2–2/3 way down one side only, grey-yellow to blackish.

Distribution and ecology

Occurs in drier areas of S.A., Qld, N.S.W. and Vic., in open spinifex and blue-bush shrubland.

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.–Oct.

Derivation of name

From tephro-, Greek for ash-grey or grey and spermus, Greek for -seeded, a reference to the colour of the seed of this species. 



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. tephrosperma 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. leucoptera, H. lissosperma, H. macraeana, H. macrorrhyncha, H. ochroptera and H. sericea, 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. Hakea 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.

A specimen from Dubbo District (J.L.Boorman, BRI 1259538, NSW) has glabrous pedicels and perianth, but matches H. tephrosperma in slender short uncinate leaves, short ferruginous haired rachis, and fruit.

Representative specimens

South Australia: between Canopus Stn & Morgan Vale, 30 Sept. 1973, F. van der Sommer s.n. (AD). Qld: 66 km SE of Charleville, G.W.Trapnell & K.Williams 268 (BRI). New South Wales: Blighty, E of Deniliquin, G.M.Cunningham & P.L.Milthorpe 2418 (NSW); 24 km from Bourke towards Cobar, C.R.Dunlop 1127 (CANB). Victoria: Kulkyne State Forest, W of L. Hattah, H.I.Aston 110 (MEL).


Link to PlantNET treatment for NSW.


Link to SA eFlora treatment.


Link to FloraBase treatment of this species for WA.


Link to Maiden’s Forest Flora of New South Wales vol. 6, pl. 206 for an account and image of this species as H. vittata .

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

Further illustrations

J.H.Maiden, Forest Fl. New South Wales 6: no. 202, pl. 206 (1915);

G.M.Cunningham et al., Pl. W. New South Wales 218 (1981), as H. vittata .

I. Holliday, Hakeas. A Field and Garden Guide 202-3 (2005)