Pultenaea pedunculata

Matted Bush-pea

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Faboideae

A prostrate shrub, which can form dense matts to 1 metre or more in diameter with softy-hairy branches. Branches are up to several metres long but rarely more than 20 cm off the ground, and often forming roots.

In NSW, it is rare and found in 3 disjunct areas, which are western and south-western Sydney (around Prestons-Liverpool-Fairfield-Yennora as well as near Oran Park and Gilead); then from between Marulan to Bungonia and Tarago-area; then down the south coast, mainly around Tathra and further south.

It is widespread in Victoria, as well as the east of South Australia.

It is found in dry sclerophyll forests and grassy woodland, as well as coastal heath and scrub, close to ocean cliffs and headlands. It grows on a range of soils including clay and alluvium.

It is listed as threatened with extinction in the wild in NSW.

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, narrow-elliptic, to about 10 mm long and to 2 mm wide; sparsely hairy, with stipules to 3 mm long at the base, dark green to mid-green in colour.

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 8 mm long, and borne solitarily in leaf axils, near the ends of branches, on very prominent peduncles. The standard petal is bright yellow, sometimes with the outer part being red; the wings are yellow to orange and the keel red to purple, although the colour of the flowers is very variable. They are mostly yellow in NSW, though apricot and orange flowered populations are also known.

The fruit of all peas is a pod. In this species, it is globular to ovate, to 7 mm long and swollen.

In the garden

This species is known to be cultivated and can be grown successfully.

It prefers a moist and well drained soil, in semi-shade. It should not be grown in dense shade. Useful for rockeries and any high points in a garden where soil is shallow.

P. pedunculata is also available in a yellow-flowered cultivar, ‘Pyalong Gold’ and a pink-flowered cultivar, ‘Pyalong Pink’. Whatever colour you choose, P. pedunculata is a wonderful choice for adding a little colour to your garden.

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 a dense bush with more flowers the following season.

Author’s notes: The author has, over the years tried to grow P. stipularis, P. pedunculata and P. flexilis, all with no success. This is unfortunate, as they are very attractive in flower and are worthy garden plants.


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.

The ability of stems to creep and root from the nodes has made this species a very good coloniser of bare ground in many parts of its range.

There is uncertainty about whether the species is capable of resprouting from the base following disturbance.

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).

pedunculata – from Latin meaning “pedunculate” or “with a flower stalk” (the root meaning “a little foot”) referring to the comparatively much longer peduncles on the flowers of this species.

This plant is listed as threatened with extinction in the wild at the State level, with the category of Vulnerable.

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Pultenaea pedunculata profile page

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

Australian National Herbarium – Pultenaea pedunculata 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.

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke