Pultenaea glabra

Smooth Bush-pea

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Faboideae

An erect shrub, growing to a height 3 metres, with hairless stems.

It is restricted to the Greater Sydney Area (possibly with inaccurate and outdated records), recorded form west of Lake Burragorang, north through Katoomba (where most records are), as well as Blaxland and possibly just south of Mount Wilson. There are records east of Kandos, near Mt Coricudgy, as well as Bucketty.

It typically grows along streams in riparian vegetation and alluvial terraces; on the margins of hanging swamps and at the start of creeklines in gullies, on sandstone soils or alluvium.

It is a listed threatened species in the wild.

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, linear to obovate, to 20 mm long and to 2 mm wide; with a concave upper surface; with a glaucous upper surface and darker lower surface.

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 about 10 mm long, arranged in dense clusters near the ends of branchlets, surrounded by leaves; yellow to red in colour; the standard petal is yellow to red with reddish markings, about 1 cm across; the wings yellow to red and the keel yellow to orange. Flowering occurs in most months but mainly from September to November

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

In the garden

Currently, there is not a lot of available knowledge regarding this species. This is likely due to it being a threatened species and so has likely not been cultivated much. It may be more readily cultivated in the future.

It grows on sandy soils near creeklines naturally, and might be difficult to grow.

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 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

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 is reported to regenerate from soil-stored seed.

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

glabra – Latin – meaning “without hair”, referring to the hairless stems.

This species is listed as being threatened with extinction in the wild, at both the State and Commonwealth levels, with the category of Vulnerable at both levels.

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Pultenaea glabra profile page

NSW Office of Environment and Heritage – Threatened Species Profiles –
Pultenaea glabra profile page

Wikipedia – Pultenaea glabra profile page

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke