Daviesia genistifolia

Broom Bitter-pea

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Faboideae

A typically low and multi-stemmed shrub, often growing to about 0.6 metres tall but potentially reaching 2 metres, spreading to about 1 metre wide – very rigid and prickly.

It has a large natural geographic distribution in NSW, growing commonly across most of the tablelands and western slopes, as well as the central and north coast areas; very scant on the south coast and far western plains. The zone of occupation could be drawn from Nelligen on the south coast of NSW, to the south of the ACT, then to Albury, Griffith, then slightly west of Condobolin then northwards to the west of the Pilliga Scrub to the Queensland border, extending to the coast. In Queensland, it extends through the coast and tablelands and slightly further inland to the line of Bundaberg and to north-west of Injune. It has a patchy distribution in Victoria – occurring from Albury-Wodonga – west to the South Australian border and south to Grampians National Park. In South Australia, it occurs around Port Augusta and north into the Flinders Ranges as well as around Victor Harbour.

It is typically found in dry sclerophyll woodland and forest as well as shrubland, on a range of soils from sandy to clay-based.

Daviesia spp. have simple leaves modified to phyllodes or rigid scales in this species, arranged alternately. In this species, they are cylindrical, sharply-pointedand moderately rigid, terete and linear, to 30 mm long and to 2 mm thick at the base; blue-green to grey-green to even blue-grey (glaucous) in colour.

Daviesia spp. have pea-flowers (papilionate) which are 5-merous but with the typical pea setup where there is one large rear petal called the “standard”, two fused bottom petals called the “keel” and two lateral petals called “wings”. In this species, flowers are yellow or orange-yellow, with vivid red to dark red wings and keels, as well as markings on the standard, and are arranged in racemes of 2 to 6 flowers in leaf axils; occurring mainly from August to October.

Flowers are followed by distinctive triangular pods in Daviesia spp. In this species,and the pod is flattened to 11 mm long and 8 mm wide.

In the garden

This is another Daviesia species where cultivation information is very scant. It is a very prickly species and so may not be favoured by some gardeners. It certainly makes up for this with flowering. Check with native nurseries for availability. It can likely tolerate a range of soils, in full sun with adequate drainage. Ease of establishment is not known. However, seedlings are often seen in the bush where populations occur.

Daviesia spp. are sometimes grown by enthusiasts but the genus is not in widespread cultivation. This is a pity as there are a number of species that would make excellent subjects for cultivation as they are reasonable hardy species and require good drainage and full to half sun to grow at their best.

The seeds are often attacked by caterpillars making collection difficult.

Seeds are available commercially.


Propagation is easy from seed following pre-treatment to break the physical dormancy provided by the impervious seed coat. Pre-treatment can be carried out by abrasion or by the use of boiling water. The seed retains viability for many years. Cuttings may be successful but are often slow to strike and may not produce a vigorous root system.

Other information

Daviesia spp. regenerate after fire from seed. Some species can regenerate in large numbers after fire. This species may be able to sucker as well.

Daviesia is a genus of about 120 species, endemic to Australia, occurring in all Australian states and territories. NSW currently has 20 species. Like other genera in their family, Daviesia species have nitrogen-fixing bacteria contained in root nodules. The leaves have a bitter taste (hence the common name).

Daviesia – named for Rev. Hugh Davies (1739 – 1821); a Welsh botanist who was one of the first to describe plants in the Welsh language. The genus was named after him by James Edward Smithan English botanist and founder of the Linnean Society

genistifolia Latin – referring to the genus Genista – a genus of peas (“brooms”) of which there are some serious weeds in Australia and –folia – meaning “leaves” capturing the similarity of the leaves of this species.

This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.

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

Australian Native Plants Cultivation, Use in Landscaping and Propagation. Sixth edition. John W Wrigley and Murray Fagg. Reed New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia. 2013, page 319 for genus Daviesia.

Wikipedia Daviesia genistifolia profile page  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daviesia_genistifolia

Woolshed Thurgoona Landcare Group – Daviesia genistifolia profile page https://wtlandcare.org/details/daviesia-genistifolia/

By Dan Clarke and Jeff Howes.