Pultenaea rosmarinifolia

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Faboideae

An erect shrub to a height of 3 metres, with stems having appressed hairs.

It is confined to NSW, growing in two general and disjunct locations, from Doyalson-area to North Sydney (with a few records at Wedderburn); then from Jervis Bay (and further west), south to Ulladulla.

It typically grows in heath as well as dry sclerophyll woodland and forest on sandstone.

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 elliptic with the narrower end towards the base (obovate), to 45 mm long and to 4 mm wide; dark green in colour, with stipules to 8 mm long at the base.

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, arranged in dense clusters at the branch terminals, yellow-orange in colour; with the standard petal having a red base and up to 12 mm wide; the wings yellow with red or brownish marks and the keel red; occurring from September to October.

The fruit of all peas is a pod. In this species, it is elliptic, to 10 mm long and flattened.

In the garden

Currently, not much is known about this species in cultivation. It is not overly common but may be cultivated more in the future. Check local native nurseries for availability.

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.


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.
Seeds for this species are commercially available.

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).

rosmarinifolia – Latin meaning “with Rosmarinus-foliage”. Rosmarinus is a genus of woody, shrubs and herbs in the Lamiaceae, including Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) (although this species is now called Salvia rosmarinus).

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

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Pultenaea rosmarinifolia profile page

Wikipedia – Pultenaea rosmarinifolia profile page

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke