Persoonias are known generally as “geebungs”. There are 60-70 species and, with the exception of one species in New Zealand, all occur only in Australia. They can be found in all States but are absent from semi arid and arid zones.
Persoonia nutans is a very rare species native to the Cumberland Plain in western Sydney and much of its habitat has been cleared for urban development. It survives in a few remnant populations in urban areas and in somewhat larger populations in relatively undisturbed crown land in the far west of the Sydney area. Threats to P.nutans include: inappropriate fire regimes, mining, vegetation clearance, vehicular damage, rubbish dumping, exploitation and weed invasion. The recently gazetted Castlereagh Nature Reserve preserves probably the largest population.
The species is a small shrub of about 1 metre in height or sometimes slightly higher. The narrow, linear foliage is about 20mm long. The small yellow flowers are borne in the leaf axils on pedicles (stalks) up to 12mm long and are pendulous in habit. They occur mainly in summer. The flowers are followed by fleshy, green fruits (also pendulous) about 7mm long by 5mm wide.
P.nutans is an attractive garden plant. The flowers, although small, are well displayed because of the fairly open growth habit of the plant. It would be ideal for smaller gardens. It is native to heavier soils and, while it will not tolerate waterlogging, it is adaptable to a wide range of soils from sandy loams to clays.
Persoonias, generally, have proven to be difficult to propagate from both seed and cuttings and, unfortunately, P.nutans is no exception as far as seed is concerned. It has been reported that the species is easier to strike from cuttings than other Persoonia species using hardened side shoots and a root-promoting hormone. Despite this, propagation of P.nutans is not recommended for the beginner.
* EPBC Act = Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999;
ROTAP = Rare or Threatened Australian Plants (Briggs and Leigh, 1988)
For further information refer the Australian Plants at Risk page
Photo: Brian Walters
Photo: Brian Walters