Daviesia mimosoides

Blunt-leaf Bitter-pea, Narrow-leaf Bitter-pea or Leafy Bitter-pea

Family: Fabaceae
subfamily Faboideae

A multistemmed shrub, typically to 2 metres high by 1 metre wide (in rare cases it can reach 5 metres).

It has a widespread, if patchy, natural geographic distribution in NSW: growing on the south coast and southern tablelands as far south as the border, north through the ACT and larger Sydney-area commonly (as far west as around Katoomba). Records are disjunct and much scarcer in areas such as Mulwala (and slightly further west) and Temora-Ardlethan which seems to be the western extent in the southern parts. Patchy records can then be found on the central and north-western slopes and north coast subdivisions, from Newcastle northward, as far west as Goobang National Park near Dubbo and Coolah Tops; petering out at Gloucester on the North Coast; with further records from Tingha to the Queensland border on the north western slopes. In Queensland, records occur in the Wallangarra-Stanthorpe-Texas area with more records around the Gold Coast, Boonah, Crows Nest and Yandina. There is a final disjunct patch west of Bundaberg. It is also patchy in Victoria, scattered through the eastern half of the State, reaching close to the eastern outskirts of Melbourne, and then found with some disjunction around Ballarat, Ararat and Stawell. Additional and well-disjunct records have been found near Whyalla in South Australia in Alligator Gorge.

It is typically found in dry sclerophyll woodland and forest often on acidic soils including sandstone and sandy as well as other rocky substrates. In some habitats, it can be a dominant midstorey shrub.

Daviesia spp. have simple leaves modified to phyllodes or rigid scales and arranged alternately.

In this species, phyllodes are mostly narrowlyelliptic, sometimes linear, varying in width, to 200 mm long and 4 to 30 mm wide; mid to dark green in colour, sometimes somewhat glaucous (from a distance – plants can sometimes resemble species such as Acacia implexa).

Daviesia spp. have pea-flowers (papilionate) which are 5-merous but with the typical peasetup 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, up to 10 flowers are produced in condensed racemes in leaf axils (appearing like heads), to about 3 cm across, on a peduncle to 5 mm long; more than one raceme can be produced per axil; flowers are an attractive orange-yellow with dark brownish-red or maroon markings and a yellow centre; occurring mainlyin September and October.

Flowers are followed by distinctive triangular pods in Daviesia spp. In this species, the pod is to to 10 mm long and to 7 mm wide, brown in colour when ripe.

In the garden

This species is known to be cultivated but likely falls into the bucket of being overlooked and under-used in gardens. References for this profile suggest it can be grown successfully (see below). It is a very attractive plant when in full flower. It may be difficult to establish in gardens. It is reported to be hardy. Best planted in semi-shade to full sun on a well-draining soil with some mulch. Prune after flowering to encourage a nicer habit with more flowers.

This species is very decorative with interesting foliage and attractive perfumed flowers that last a few weeks. It is useful as a low-level cover in windbreaks.

Daviesia spp. are sometimes grown by enthusiasts but the genus is not in widespread cultivation. 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


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

There are two recognised subspecies currently recognised in NSW, for Daviesia mimosoides:

subsp. mimosoides has dull green phyllodes that are narrow-elliptic to narrow-obovate or linear with an acute apex and entire margins; occurring across the geographic range;
subsp. acris has slightly glaucous leaves with obovate to elliptic phyllodes with rounded apices and slightly crenulate margins; occurring in the ACT (Brindabella Ranges), Braidwood and Kosciuszko areas and Victoria.

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 Smith was an English botanist and founder of the Linnean Society

mimosoides Latin referring to the Mimosa genus – referring to similarity of “leaves” to those of Mimosa and Acacia species.

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

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 and for Daviesia mimosoides.

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

Australian National Herbarium – Daviesia mimosoides profile page: https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/gnp14/daviesia-mimosoides.html

By Dan Clarke and Jeff Howes.