Syn.: Donia formosa G. Don, Clianthus formosus (G. Don) Ford et Vickery, Colutea novae-hollandiae Walp., Willdampia formosa (G. Don) A. S. George
Family: Fabaceae Lindl.
Swainsona formosa
Distribution: Central and South Australia – from Karratha (Western Australia) to New South Walles and Queensland, and from Alice Springs (Northern Territory) to South Australia – in all mainland Australian states except Victoria. It has been introduced to England in 1855.
Ecology: Sturt’s Desert Pea is well adapted to life as a desert plant. It grows in arid woodlands and on open plains, often as an ephemeral following heavy rain.
Description: An annual to biennial herb with a long roots and creeping stem. The flowering stem is erect, 50–150(–200 cm) long, greyish green to reddish, the leaves and stems are covered with downy hairs. The leaves are odd-pinnate, up to 30 cm long, petiolate, the leaflets with short petiole or sessile, eliptic, greyish green, downy with striking midrib. The inflorescence is 6–9-flowered, up to 30 cm long, the flowers are 4–9 cm in length and grow in clusters of vertical stalks, the petals are usually blood red or scarlet, rarely yellowish or whitish, with a glossy black swelling at the base of the petals. The fruit is a legume, about 5 cm long. Flowers mainly from January to July.
Note: Sturt’s Desert Pea is one of Australia’s best known wildflowers. It is the floral emblem of the state of South Australia.
Swainsona formosaSwainsona formosa
Swainsona formosa
These images were taken in Central Australia (by Vladimír Janeček: November 11, 2002).