Pultenaea parviflora

Sydney Bush-pea

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Faboideae

An erect shrub to a height of up to 1.5 – 2 metres.

It is endemic to the Cumberland Plain of Western Sydney. It occurs from Windsor to Penrith and east to Erskine Park-area and Dean Park. It extends to Wilberforce and Freemans Reach as well as Pitt Town and Marayla-area.

It grows on shale and alluvial soils, in dry sclerophyll woodland. It is usually found in the Cooks River Castlereagh Ironbark and Shale Gravel Transition forest communities.

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, the leaves are alternate, crowded along stems, cuneate to obovate leaves, to 6 mm long and to 2 mm wide, with stipules about 2 mm long at the base, with the margin curving upwards and the tip turned downwards.

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 7 mm long and arranged in clusters near the ends of branchlets; yellow-orange with the standard having red markings; the wings yellow to orange and the keel yellow to red, occurring from August to November.

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

In the garden

This species is not commonly cultivated. This may be due to its threatened status. It is occasionally grown by enthusiasts but is not in wide cultivation. It is suited to well drained soils in a sunny or semi-shaded position.

It is tolerant of at least moderate frost.

Many members of this genus can be a little difficult to establish in a garden situation.

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. 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 Editor undertook some monitoring of this species in Castlereagh and Wianamatta Nature Reserves in 2022, with many thousands of plants observed regenerating after fire – from seed).

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

parviflora – from Latin parvus, meaning “small” and flora meaning “flowers”, referring to the smaller size of the flowers in comparison with other species in the genus.

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

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

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Pultenaea parviflora profile page

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke