Bossiaea neoanglica

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Faboideae

A prostrate to low-lying shrub, growing to around 50 cm tall. 

It has an interesting natural occurrence in New South Wales, growing in generally two disjunct patches, on the central coast between Campbelltown / Lake Burragorang and Bundanoon in the southern highlands; then further north from west of Gloucester, scattered on the north coast / northern tablelands area through areas such as Armidale and east of Glen Innes to Jennings on the border. It extends into Queensland, with disjunct records to Kroombit Tops (although this is also the northern limit for B. buxifolia and may be due to mis-identifications). 

It grows in dry sclerophyll woodland and forest, on sandy soils.

Bossiaea spp. have two ‘versions’ of foliage. Some species have simple leaves (sometimes described as uni-foliolate), arranged alternately or oppositely. Other species have leaves reduced with flattened or winged stems modified to cladodes, with mostly only juvenile growth having small leaves. As this is a member of the ‘pea’ family, stipules are present though usually small. In this species, true leaves are arranged alternately, ovate to more or less round, to 8 mm long and to 7 mm wide on a petiole to 0.8 mm long; dull green to blue-green in colour with the upper surface bearing minute tubercules and the lower surface hairy and paler.

Flowers are, of course, pea-shaped (a term sometimes used is papilionate), with 5 petals in a fixed arrangement; the main back petal is called the “standard”, two lateral petals called “wings” and two fused petals at the bottom called the “keel” (in which the anthers and one carpel tend to be hidden). In this species, flowers are borne singularly in leaf axils, to 9 mm long. The standard is dark reddish outside (lower surface) and bright yellow inside with red markings; the wings and keel are dark red with brown markings.

The fruit of all peas is a pod. In this species, it is oblong, to 25 mm long.

In the garden

Bossiaea species are a particular attractive garden plant of the “bacon and eggs” element of the Australian bush. However they are not often cultivated but are sometimes grown by Australian plant enthusiasts. When species such as B. heterophylla, B. walkeri and B. scolopendria are seen in the wild in full flower, it is hard not to ask “Can I grow this one?”

Reportedly, they are easy enough to grow. It may be simply a matter of acquiring seeds or tubestock from native nurseries or online. Some species are known for not setting a lot of seed and seed can also be hard to germinate in some cases. If plants or seeds can be sourced, they are generally readily cultivated in a sunny well drained position. 

Not a lot of information is known regarding the cultivation of this species. Check with native nurseries for availability. It would be an attractive plant in any garden on a well-drained sandy soil in a sunny position.  


Propagation of Bossiaea seeds needs treatment before sowing. This is done by allowing the seeds, which have a hard seed coat, to stand in boiled water for 12 hours. The softened seeds then swell and are ready for sowing. The seeds are best sown in a mixture of three parts coarse sand and one part peat moss or similar. 

Seed, however, is not often available. 

Cuttings strike reasonably well from firm, current season’s growth.

Other information

Bossiaea is a genus of at least 50 species (likely more), endemic to Australia. They are found in all States and are mostly small to medium shrubs. NSW currently recognises 30 species. 

This species grows in fire-prone habitats and likely regenerates from seed after fire.

Bossiaeanamed after Joseph Hugues Boissieu de la Martinière (1758-1788), a physician and plant collector who participated in the expedition of Jean-Francois de La Perouse in 1785. He disappeared in the Pacific whilst a member of this expedition, when ships were lost in the Solomon Islands. The genus was named by botanist Etienne Pierre Ventenat.

neoanglicaGreek via Latin neos (νέος) meaning ‘new’ and anglika (Αγγλικά) meaning “English” – referring to the New England geographic region of NSW where this species was likely first found.

This species is not considered to be threatened with extinction in the wild. 

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Bossiaea neoanglica profile page:    https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Bossiaea~neoanglica

Wikipedia – Bossiaea neoanglica profile page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bossiaea_neoanglica 


By Jeff Howes and Dan Clarke