Pultenaea echinula

Curved Bush-pea

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Faboideae

An erect shrub, to 1 metre tall with spreading branches to 1 metre wide. It can have hairless to sparsely hairy stems.

It is confined to NSW, as far south as Bulli in the south-east, extending north-west through Appin and Katoomba and north to the east of Kandos. There are also a few records north and north-west of Orange; south of Bathurst, as well as south-east of Wollombi.

It typically grows in dry sclerophyll woodlands and forests on sandstone ridges.

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 although densely arranged, linear to needle-like, to 15 mm long and 1 mm wide with a groove along the upper surface; covered in small pimple-like glands (tuberculate) and with a short aristate tip.

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 arranged in dense terminal clusters, to 10 mm long, yellow to orange in colour, without bracts but surrounded by leaves. The standard petal is about 1 cm across with reddish stripes; the wings are yellow to orange and the keel is red.

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

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 shallow sandy soils mostly and so may need similar conditions to thrive.

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 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 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).

echinula – Latin – referring the genus Echinus; a genus of sea urchins – likely referring to the spiky leaves of this species. The Greek for sea urchin is achinos (αχινος).

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

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Pultenaea echinula profile page

Wikipedia – Pultenaea echinula profile page

By Jeff Howes, edited Dan Clarke