Pultenaea tuberculata

Wreath Bush-pea

Family: Fabaceae subfamily Faboideae

A spreading to upright shrub, to 2 metres high, spreading to 1 meter wide, sometimes multi-stemmed, with soft curly hairs on the stems that are obscured by stipules.

It is confined to NSW, with most of its occurrence along the coast, from Newcastle-area, south to Jervis Bay and west of to around Tallong and Morton National Park. There are some very disjunct records on the north coast, near Yamba and Wooli (north-east and south-east of Grafton, very close to the coast), as well as near Moruya and Tuross Head on the south coast.

It is often found in moist and dry heathland, 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 and very clustered/crowded on the stems (overlapping / imbricate), rough-textured with small tubercules, with an almost artificial feel; narrow-elliptic to obovate, to 25 mm long and to 6 mm wide, hairy and with incurved margins; occasionally with sharp points or otherwise blunt; light to mid-green (or somewhat blue-green) (sometimes purplish in some seasons); and with stipules to 7 mm long.

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 about 15 mm long, in dense terminal/sub-terminal heads, surrounded by leaves and stipules, yellow to orange to red-orange; with the standard yellow to red, to 15 mm wide, sometimes with red markings; wings yellow-red and the keel yellow-red; often flowering most of the year.

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

In the garden

Currently, not a lot is known regarding the cultivation of Pultenaea tuberculata. It may be difficult to establish or may need more trialling. It grows on sandy soils naturally, often with some moisture and so may need these conditions to thrive in a garden. Check with 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.

Other information

This species was previously known as Pultenaea elliptica. This species is highly variable with differences in leaf, flower size and flower colour, often observed between plants at the same locality.

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).

tuberculata – from Latin tuberculum meaning “a small bump” or “swelling”
– referring to the leaves being covered in minute tubercules.

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

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Pultenaea tuberculata profile page

Australian Plants Society – Sutherland Group: Coastal Plants of the Royal National Park Profiles (CD) – Pultenaea tuberculata profile page

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke