Daviesia squarrosa

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Faboideae

A slender, and often small shrub, growing potentially to 1.5 metres with a spread to a metre or more, often with several arching stems.

It is endemic to NSW, growing mainly on the coast and coastal ranges only, from around Newcastle and Broke, to around Tuross Head and as far west as the Megalong Valley and just west of Nerriga. There are massively disjunct records in Queensland. However, these are likely to now be D. villifera.

It is typically found in dry sclerophyll woodland and forest, usually on sandy-skeletal soils but also rocky soils with some clay content.

Daviesia spp. have simple leaves modified to phyllodes or rigid scales, arranged alternately. In this species, they are crowded along stems, cordate to ovate, to 12 mm long and to 10 mm wide with a long, tapering tip (in this Editor’s mind – somewhat resembling “spades” in a deck of playing cards and strongly resembling leaves of species such as Epacris longiflora); with rough (hispid) hairs on the margins and midribs, slightly to moderately prickly, green to blue-green in colourand with a prominent mid-rib and on a very short petiole.

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, yellow flowers with red markings are produced singly or in pairs in the leaf axils on pedicels to 12 mm long; occurring from July to October.

Flowers are followed by distinctive triangular pods in Daviesia spp. In this speciesthe pod is flattened, to 9 mm long and to 5.5 mm long, typically brown when ripe.

In the garden

Very little cultivation information is available for this species. It is not widely grown and may be difficult to grow in many instances. Check with local native nurseries for availability. Best planted on a sandy soil with fast drainage in full sun to part shade. It certainly makes a nice shrub, especially when multi-stemmed. It has a somewhat similar foliage-appearance to that of Epacris longiflora, although with arching stems.

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.


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 Smith was an English botanist and founder of the Linnean Society

squarrosa – Latin meaning “with spreading or curving parts at the extremities”, referring to the manner in which the leaves bend/curve outwards from top to bottom.

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

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

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 squarrosa profile page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daviesia_squarrosa

iNaturalistDaviesia squarrosa profile page                                https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/139352-Daviesia-squarrosa/browse_photos

By Dan Clarke and Jeff Howes.