Pultenaea aculeata

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Faboideae

An erect to procumbent shrub, reaching a height to 4 metres tall (often smaller), with spreading hairy stems.

It occurs in a restricted area of NSW, known only from east of Rylstone, with the majority of individuals occurring within Wollemi National Park.

It grows in crevices between sandstone boulders (pagoda rock formations), growing in dry heathlands, with or without a sparse Eucalyptus and/or Callitris canopy.

It is listed as threatened with extinction in the wild and has only been formerly described in 2022.

Pultenaea is a member of the “pea” family. This generally means that leaves are alternate with stipules (leaf-like appendages) at the base of the petioles. Pultenaea spp. however, can sometimes have opposite leaves or leaves in whorls of 3. One of the key features of Pultenaea is that the stipules are fused behind the axillary bud.

In this species, leaves are alternate although crowded, and needle-like / linear and appearing cylindrical (upper surface concealed by rolled-in margins which form a groove); lower surface darker than upper; to 10 mm long by 1 mm wide and with a thin sharp point on the apices; stipules to 3 mm long.

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). Pultenaea spp. sometimes have bracts surrounding the inflorescences, and bracteoles attached to the calyx tube or just below on the pedicels (at different locations in different species). These bracteoles can also have accompanying stipules.

In this species, flowers are to about 10 mm long, arranged in dense heads but not purely terminal, surrounded by leaves, bright yellow, with the standard to about 1 cm across, sometimes with red markings; the wings yellow and the keel red;

The fruit of all peas is a pod. In this species, it is swollen, to 6 mm long.

In the garden

This species is not known to be cultivated. This is likely due to its rare status. It may be more readily cultivated in the future.

It grows in sandstone crevices on shallow sandy soil in the wild, and so may need similar requirements in a garden.

Many members of this genus can be a little difficult to establish in a garden situation. They prefer soil with moderate drainage and a semi shaded site. Prune after flowering to maintain a dense bush with more flowers the following season.


Is carried out by either cuttings or seed and results are reasonably good from both methods. Cuttings should be from newer wood with the soft tips removed.

A lot of seed is destroyed by insects resulting in a low number of viable seeds.

Before seeds are sown they must be treated by chipping, scarifying or hot water, which are all satisfactory methods to aid germination.

Other information

This species was previously referred to as Pultenaea sp. Olinda, and is referred to as such in the literature. It was thought to be a part of the Pultenaea glabra complex.

There are approximately 120 species of Pultenaea, making it the largest pea-genus in Australia. They are endemic to Australia and occurring in all States except the Northern Territory. NSW, currently has about 95-100 taxa with a large set informally recognised. This genus contains some species complexes and is under taxonomic revision.

Pultenaea spp. will generally regenerate from seed after fire. This species has seed with a hard coat which may play a role in fire. It has also been observed to resprout after fire.

Pultenaea – is named in honour of Dr Richard Pulteney (1730–1801) – an English botanist who published a biography of Carl von Linne (Linnaeus).

aculeata – Latin aculeatus meaning “prickly” – referring to the prickly leaves of this species.

This species is listed as threatened with extinction at the State level with the category of Endangered.

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Pultenaea aculeata profile page

NSW Office of Environment and Heritage – Threatened Species Profiles – Pultenaea sp. Olinda profile page

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke