28 Sept 2022

Mystery Hakea!

Matthew Bryant

Occasionally, we have a plant in our collection that we aren’t quite sure what exactly it is. This could be down to many reasons; the most exciting one is when we get seeds or plants of wild-collected origin that need identifying while they are in our guardianship. These have the potential to be a brand-new species. What a thought!

This is the case for one particular plant in the Great Glasshouse. Originally brought in as a Hakea sp., a member of the Proteaceae family – and a relative of South Africa’s king protea – then later wrongly identified as a Banksia cuneata, this plant has had a bit of an identity crisis. We finally know what it is now and all it took was flying across the globe – justification for my bursary funding, of course!

While on a work placement at Kings Park Botanic Garden, Perth, I was lucky enough to join in a field trip out to John Forrest National Park. While walking around the bushland, I spotted something familiar: it was the mislabelled plant from the Great Glasshouse – except in the wild!

The knowledgeable horticulturist from Kings Park quickly identified it as Hakea amplexicaulis. Mystery solved! I will be passing images of this onto our Plant Records Officer and Curator and we can look into formally verifying our plant.