Weed of the month: May

PINCUSHION HAKEA

(Hakea laurina)

(Photos: E. Cousins; foliage, young flower and bud; bees on mature flower.)

Such a beautiful flower, and such beautiful foliage! A native of WA, this makes a lovely garden plant…just not so lovely when it escapes into local native bushland! The small bushy tree has flat blue-green leaves, reminiscent of acacias or eucalypts. The edges of the leaves can be tinged with red, while strong vein markings give a striped look so the leaves are fairly distinctive. The autumn and winter flowers though give the plant its common name. On breaking out of their capsules the white protruding stamens are firstly bent, then straighten out like pins from a red base. As you can see from the second photo above, the bees LOVE the nectar these flowers produce (there were more than one dozen of them clustered in that one flower)! Grow one in your own garden, but please, make sure it doesn’t spread elsewhere!