Swainsona galegifolia - Smooth Darling Pea
There are about 28 species of Swainsona growing naturally in NSW, most of which are plants of the drier western slopes and plains. They have mauve to purple flowers and pinnate leaves (a compound leaf with leaflets on a common stalk).
I found these attractive plants on a sheltered, damp, rocky embankment on the Gresford to Dungog Road. Their flowering period is October to December, but I photographed these flowering plants in mid September.
Pinnate leaves of Swainson galegifolia
It is a flimsy bush to about 1 metre tall that sways in the breeze. Racemes of several large pink to mauve flowers on short stalks make a showy display. Swollen, leathery, hairless seed pods are lime-green often tinged with red, and 25 to 40mm long with a beak up to 15mm long.
There is more information on Smooth Darling Pea, including NSW distribution, at PlantNET.
Seed pods and stamens of Smooth Darling Pea. Swainsona species all have 9 stamens united and 1 free
Gompholobium are shrubs with leaves in sets of threes, or occasionally pinnate. Pods are round and inflated, flowers are usually yellow and have ten free stamens.
Large bright yellow flowers of Broad-leaf Wedge-pea
Broad-leaf Wedge-pea is an erect shrub generally about 1 metre in height with completely yellow, large flowers 25 to 30mm long. Flowers are borne on short stalks in leaf axils (between stem and leaf stalk) of the upper leaves. Leaves are in groups of three, flat or with edges slightly curved under, 30 to 50mm long and 3 to 5mm wide.
I found these Gompholobium shrubs growing in sandy heath amongst blackbutt forest at Heatherbrae in the lower Hunter Valley, flowering early in October. Their flowering period is August to November.
There is NSW distribution and more details on Broad-leaf Wedge-pea at PlantNET.
Leaves of Gompholobium latifolium are in groups of 3
Glycine tabacina does not appear to have a common name, which is not all bad, as common names can tend to be confusing. Glycine are week twining plants with pale blue-mauve flowers and leaves divided into three leaflets. As far as I am aware, there are still unnamed species of Glycine in the area, so I am not 100% sure of my identifications.
Growth habit and habitat of Glycine tabacina
Leaves of Glycine tabacina, with the stalk of the centre leaf noticably longer than that of the 2 lateral leaves
Calyx is only sparsely hairy, which is another identifying feature of this Glycine
Bossiaea is a genus of 42 species of shrubs with possibly a quarter represented in the Hunter region. Flowers are yellow with red centres; stamens are all united into a tube; fruit is a flattened pod, and stems are often flattened.
Bossiaea scolopendria also does not appear to have a common name. The leafless, flattened stems of this species are strong and erect and may grow up to 1 metre tall and 10mm wide.
Flowers are 10mm long, solitary along the stems, with stalks 1 to 3mm long. The pod is almost without a stalk. I found these plants flowering in sandy heath amongst eucalypt and banksia woodland at Heatherbrae in early October. It was a striking plant with its long flat leafless stems that I had breviously associated with Western Australian flora.
Its flowering period is August to October. There is more information at PlantNET.
Flat stems of Bossiaea scolopendria
This slender trailing plant is usually found climbing over fallen branches, around grass stems or on low bushes. Apparently there have been three varieties recognised, all of which could occur in the Hunter Valley.
Leaves consist of 3 shortly-stalked leaflets which vary greatly in their size and shape. All 3 leaflets are on short and equal stalks or the terminal leaflet is stalkless (this is an important identifying feature).
Pale pink to mauve flowers are borne on slender stalks in loose racemes in the upper leaf axils. The plant is usually covered in small, but dense, backward-pointing hairs.
Mauve flowers and hairy calyx of Twining Glycine
I found this plant flowering in September and October, twining rampantly amongst and over swamp-side vegetation in the lower Hunter Valley. It can flower at any time of year. According to PlantNET, Glycine clandestina is a widespread species.
Picture showing leaf configuration and twining habit with stems of Twining Glycine twisting around sedge stalks
The genus Templetonia appears to be represented by only about 11 species, all endemic to Australia. It is charactised by having alternate leaves which are mostly simple or reduced to scales. Pods and seeds are compressed.
Templetonia stenophylla is a small straggly ground hugging shrub with ridged stems to 50cm long. 1 or 2 10mm yellow and brown flowers grow from leaf axils. Leaves are simple, narrow, linear from 10 to 70mm long with a short recurved tip.
Pod, leaf, flower and stem characteristics of Templetonia stenophylla
I found several of these plants well hidden amongst grass on a clay hillside near Muswellbrook in the mid Hunter Valley, flowering in late September. There is more information at PlantNET.
Because of their ability to fix nitrogen, they are useful plants. Their role is to increase soil fertility and provide protection for plants. They often germinate quickly and are short-lived. In the absence of fire they tend to disappear from the understory in about 15 years.
PlantNET provides a simple key for Fabaceae species.
My native plant index contains a list of all pea flowers (with links) that I have featured in my blog. As time progesses, other plant families will be represented also.