Daviesia latifolia, the Hop Bitter-pea, is a medium, upright shrub that may reach a height of 3 metres.
It occurs in NSW along the entirety of the tablelands, on the edge of the coastal divide, and is scattered through the western slopes, extending just into south-east Queensland. It occurs throughout Victoria (except for the north-west) and into Tasmania.
Daviesia spp. have simple leaves modified to phyllodes or rigid scales. In this species, the large, leathery leaves are up to 10 cm long and to 3 cm wide with a network of veins and slightly twisted. The leaves have a bitter taste (hence the common name) and recorded as having medicinal properties and have been used as a hop substitute.
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, the flowers are yellow and brown, the typical “eggs and bacon” colours of many Australian pea species, about 10 mm across. Flowers are carried in racemes, to 80 cm long and appear in spring. They are said to be fragrant but we have not noticed this characteristic.
Flowers are followed by distinctive triangular pods. In this species, they are 9 mm long and 7 mm wide, brown and holding two hard-coated seeds.
Author’s notes: Daviesia latifolia is a decorative shrub that could be grown in hedges and windbreaks. As with most native peas, this species is rarely, if ever, cultivated.
We have had a long relationship with the Hop Bitter-pea. In a previous cold climate garden, Daviesia latifolia regenerated in large numbers. We also have scattered, naturally occurring populations on our present site. Extensive roadwork on the road that passes our property has triggered a proliferation of Daviesia latifolia seedlings.
Species of this genus are considered difficult to cultivate unless plants are already present on site. If plants can be sourced, plant in an open sunny spot on free draining soil. Plants have great potential to attract bees to the garden. Hopefully, they will be more commonly cultivated in the future.
Daviesia latifolia may be propagated from seeds that should be treated with hot water before sowing and cuttings using fresh new growth.
Daviesia plants will likely regenerate from seed after fire – in large numbers.
Daviesia is a genus of about 120 species, occurring in all Australian states and territories. NSW currently has 20 species.
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 Smith.
latifolia – Latin – lati meaning “wide” and folia “leaves” – referrring to the much wider leaves of this species compared to others in the genus.
This species is not currently considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.
NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Daviesia latifolia profile page https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Daviesia~latifolia
Australian Native Plants Society Australia – Daviesia latifolia profile page http://anpsa.org.au/plant_profiles/daviesia-latifolia/
Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.