STURT'S DESERT PEA
First discovered by the explorer William Dampier, in 1688, when he visited islands off the coast of north-western Australia. Another explorer, Capt Charles Sturt, noted the presence of this plant in 1844 while exploring between Adelaide and Central Australia. It was named after him to commemorate his exploration of inland Australia.
This plant is an annual, sometimes a biennial. It is found mostly in the dry inland of Central Australia and further south to northern South Australia, where it germinates quickly after rain.
A slow-growing, creeping plant that grows along the ground like a ground cover, it can cover several feet. The stems and leaves appear soft grey, due to a covering of fine hairs. The flowers stand upright on fleshy stalks, up to 30cm tall. The large pea flower can be various shades of red, with a base of deep red to purple to black.
It was adopted as the floral emblem of South Australia on 23 November 1961.
A deep, well drained soil in an open sunny position is essential under cultivation.
Not suitable for tropical or rainy, humid areas.
Seeds are best sown in late winter or early spring. Soak seeds overnight in warm/hot water, then, because it is hard to transplant, sow in the position where the plant is to grow.
Water deeply, supplementary watering may not be necessary once the seedlings are established.
In ideal conditions flowering will commence about four months after germination. It flowers from July to January.
Not suitable as cut flowers
Back to Australian Flora page.