Plant of the Month — February 2011
Hakea ruscifolia Labill. — Candle Hakea
This shrub, reaching up to 3m in height, is a member of the Proteaceae family and is common throughout the south-west of Western Australia, with the Jarrah forest its preferred habitat. However, it can be found on the south coast as far east as Israelite Bay and as far north as Mt.Lesueur and appears happy on a range of soil types. Its cool white flowers, as its common name suggests, are like white candles. The blooms stand out in the bushland where many plants have already developed the autumn colours of aestivation.
Not a lot is in bloom at this time of year, but this shrub appears to thrive, playing an important role in the conditions of the ecosystem. It provides not only nectar but also insects, a source of protein for birds.
Hakea ruscifolia is not available for sale from local native plant nurseries but would be a worthwhile addition to most gardens, large or small, for its ability to provide a food source and therefore encourage birds and native insects around our homes over the autumn months. As with many of our local native plant species, we are able to enjoy it only in the wild. For those of you who walk the Bibbulmun Track at this time of year, look out for Hakea ruscifolia near the West Cape Howe campsite.
Photo: A.P. Brown
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