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What is Hakea?

Vasanth S.
Vasanth S.

Hakea is a plant genus that is part of the Proteaceae family. It consists of about 149 species of small shrubs and trees that are native to Australia. Most are evergreen shrubs that feature thick leaves and dense, oddly shaped flowers that bloom in a variety of colors. This genus is distinguished from others within the Proteaceae family by their woody seed pods. Hakea species are typically grown for their ornamental aspects.

Most of the plants in the Hakea genus are native to Western Australia. H. victoria, H. cucullata, and H. baxteri are commonly found in the south western portion of the continent. A few species are native to the east coast including H. salicifolia, H. dactyloides, and H. teretifolia.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

Usually, this genus is utilized as a hedge or as a border with other shrubs. The taller species in this genus reach a height of 19 feet (about 6 m) and can be planted in a corner. Species of moderate height can be used as a privacy screen, while smaller shrubs can line driveways or entryways.

This genus is great as a specimen plant as well. A specimen plant is a plant that is displayed for its ornamental effect. Usually, it is planted alone in a garden or displayed in a container. Individually, plants within the Hakea genus can serve as a focal point in a landscape.

Generally, shrubs within the Hakea genus require sandy soil that is slightly acidic. Amendments may be required to improve the nutrient content of the soil or to improve drainage. The plants should be placed in an area that has an adequate amount of sunlight. Although most species can survive in partial shade, exposure to more sunlight is considered better.

Fungal diseases are a concern with species within the Hakea genus. This is usually a problem when the soil becomes soggy and unable to drain properly. A common occurring fungal disease within the Hakea genus is root rot, which is caused by species of the fungi Phytophthora.

Root rot is the degradation of the plant's root tips by fungal spores. The initial symptoms include the yellowing and wilting of leaves, beginning at the top of the shrub. As the fungus moves up the root system and enters the lower trunk, the outer layer of sapwood becomes brown. The best way to save the plant is to remove soil away from the trunk and the upper roots to allow the tissue to dry.

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