Pultenaea microphylla

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Faboideae

An erect to prostrate shrub, growing to a height of up to 2 metres with softly-hairy stems.

It has a large natural distribution in NSW, growing from west of Sydney, south to around Bredbo (excluding the south coast), with a few records in north-east Victoria, then continuing north through the ACT and the inland, to as far as west of Dubbo; then north-east through the north western slopes and tablelands of the state, to as far north as around Eidsvold in Queensland.

It typically grows in dry sclerophyll woodland and forest on clay-based on gravel-based soils.

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, linear to narrow obovate, to 15 mm long and to 2 mm wide, with a small point at the apex.

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 to 10 mm long, and arranged singly or in clusters of up to ten near the ends of branchlets; yellow-orange in colour with the standard petal to about 1.5 cm across and bearing with red markings. The wings are yellow and the keel dark red. Flowering occurs from September to December.

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

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 clayey to gravel-based soils mostly and so may need similar conditions to thrive. The prostrate form is said to make a useful groundcover in well-drained gardens.

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. 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.

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

microphylla – Greek micro (μικρό) meaning “small” and –phylla (φύλλα) meaning “leaves”, referring to the small leaves of the species.

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Pultenaea microphylla profile page

Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.

Wikipedia – Pultenaea microphylla profile page

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke