Hidden in the Hills – Hakea Gibbosa

This rather scraggly shrub can be located in many forest locations bordering walking tracks in local bushland. It flowers from late June to early September.

The plant appears to survive on somewhat depleted sandstone soils but as a consequence may not produce an abundance of loosely clustered flowers. However, where the conditions are more favourable the opposite can be the case with light creamy-white flowers extending in greater numbers along its younger branchlets.

Over many years the plant will have a large number of easily identifiable, somewhat grotesque, seed pods visible over much of the plant. The oldest ones may open when stimulated by extremely hot conditions to reveal the yellow and orange colour, as well as the shallow depression that held two seeds.

These winged seeds will float on the wind settling on the ground, possibly some distance from the parent plant to remain dormant in the leaf and bark litter until sufficient moisture stimulates germination. New growth is characterised by dense but loose white hairs.

Growing up to around 3m high and 1.5m wide the foliage of this plant is quite stiff and prickly with a small but sharp spur at the tip of each leaf.

When cultivated for home garden use, in more nutrient rich soils and given adequate attention the Hairy Needle Bush will flourish as a screening plant in addition to being a refuge for small birds wishing to avoid the attacks of larger birds. Due to its prickly nature it is advisable to not plant it near pathways where people may inadvertently brush up against it.

General distribution is restricted to central eastern NSW coast.

The Community Environment Centre at Annangrove is holding an Open Day on Saturday August 13 from 12.00 midday to 4.00 pm. The local Hills Community is invited to visit the Centre and engage with a range of activities. Admission is free.

Following August 13, on each Saturday following, the Community Environment Centre will be open from 9.00 am, A variety of organic gardening, sustainability and environmental workshops are scheduled to commence from August 20. – LACHLAN TURNER

rather scraggly shrub