Ovens & Murray Advertiser - North East Regional Extra

Hakea invaginata - blooming in ‘sprinter’

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EMINENT botanist Tim Entwisle suggests that southern Australia should adopt a five-season calendar that more closely reflects the cycles in weather, plant and animal activity.

Our traditiona­l four seasons are modelled on the northern hemisphere, except our seasons are at opposite times of the calendar year.

From early August, birds are nesting, the bush is vibrant with birdsong and awash with golden acacias.

Entwisle has named the season of August/September ‘sprinter’.

The months of October/November when we experience rapidly moving weather patterns, often accompanie­d with heavy rainfall, Entwisle has named ‘sprummer’.

Hakeas, such as the beautiful Hakea invaginata reach their peak flowering time in ‘sprinter’.

In contrast to the so-called ‘needle hakeas’, despite its appearance, H. invaginata has flexible, silky-smooth leaves.

It occurs naturally in yellow or red sand in mallee scrub west of Coolgardie, WA.

The epithet ‘invaginata’ is from Latin invaginatu­s = to enfold, and refers to the grey-blue narrow leaves which have five deep longitudin­al grooves which are curled inwards creating a rounded needle-like appearance.

It was formally named by botanist Brian Burtt in 1950. H. invaginata is an upright medium shrub, useful for hedging and for narrow spaces.

It is best suited to free-draining soils in an open, sunny position. In late-winter, clusters of stem-clasping bright pink nectarlade­n flowers are borne in profusion on last year’s growth.

It can be readily shaped with regular, light pruning after flowering.

Hakeas are survivors in harsh growing conditions.

Their peak flowering time is when rainfall is most likely, in late winter, i.e. in ‘sprinter’.

Hakeas are not as well known in cultivatio­n as grevilleas which are their close relatives.

Some hakeas have similar flowers to some grevilleas, and the two species can be confused. Both are great bird-attractors.

A careful inspection of the seed capsule is one way of identifyin­g which is which.

Hakeas have thick, woody symmetrica­l seed capsules.

These seed capsules remain attached to the plant, sometimes for years, and remain unopened until excessive heat causes them to open and release the seeds.

Grevilleas have more fragile seed capsules.

They mature rapidly after flowering, and open and release their seeds.

DNA sequencing has confirmed that grevilleas are a large branch on the tree of life, whilst hakeas are a sub-branch within it. Hakeas are simply grevilleas that have developed thicker seedcases.

H. invaginata is available from specialist Australian plants nurseries. As one of the most desirable hakeas, sourcing a plant is well worth the effort.

 ?? with Helen van Riet AUSTRALIAN PLANTS SOCIETY (VIC)
PHOTO: Helen Van Riet ?? ◆ READY TO PEAK: The beautiful Hakea invaginata reach their peak flowering time in ‘sprinter’.
with Helen van Riet AUSTRALIAN PLANTS SOCIETY (VIC) PHOTO: Helen Van Riet ◆ READY TO PEAK: The beautiful Hakea invaginata reach their peak flowering time in ‘sprinter’.

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