Pultenaea divaricata

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Faboideae

An erect shrub growing to a height of 1 metre, typically with overall-narrow branches which spread apart, with stems that are more or less hairless.

It is confined to NSW, growing in disjunct populations, from north of Lithgow, south through Katoomba-area; then with a disjunction to the southern highlands, growing from Hill Top to Tallong and east to near Jamberoo, then with another disjunction east and south of Nerriga-area (Corang).

It is typically found in swampy-heath on sandstone.

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, the leaves are alternate in a dense arrangement, linear to needle-like, to 12 mm long and about 0.5 mm wide, with a groove along the upper surface and covered in small pimple-like glands (tuberculate).

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, the flowers are arranged in dense terminal clusters, to 10 mm long, yellow to orange-yellow in colour and surrounded by bracts about 2.5 mm long; the standard petal and wings are yellow to orange with red markings and the keel is yellow.

The fruit of all peas is a pod. In this species, they are flat and to 5 mm long.

In the garden

Not a lot of knowledge is currently available regarding this species in cultivation. It may be more commonly cultivated in the future. It grows on wet sandy soils mostly and so may need similar conditions to thrive. It is known to be sold in nurseries and seed is also available online.

Many members of this genus can be a little difficult to establish in a garden situation. They prefer soil with moderate drainage and semi shaded site. Prune after flowering to maintain compactness.


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

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. This genus is under taxonomic revision. NSW currently has about 95 taxa with some informally recognises and some that are species-complex.

This genus contains some species complexes and is under taxonomic revision.

Pultenaea spp. will generally regenerate from seed 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).

divaricata – Latin meaning “split-apart” or ‘spreading’ – referring to the spreading branches of the species.

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

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Pultenaea divaricata profile page

Wikipedia – Pultenaea divaricata profile page

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke