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Australian Plants online

On the Brink - 6

A series on Australian Plants at risk in their natural habitat.

Swainsona sejuncta

Swainsona is a genus in the "pea" flowered family (Fabaceae). All members of the genus are found only in Australia, usually in semi-arid and arid areas. There are about 80 - 90 species with the most famous member being Sturt's desert pea (Swainsona formosa), one of Aiustralia's most spectacular wildflowers.

Swainsona sejuncta   

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Swainsona sejuncta has a restricted distribution in central-western Queensland, in the Carnarvon Range and the adjacent Consuelo Tableland. It is closely related to the widespread and well known species S.galegifolia.

Under the ROTAP* coding system it is classified as "-2RC" meaning that it is regarded as rare but not under any current identifiable threat as it is protected in a dedicated reserve (Carnarvon Gorge National Park). The species is not presently listed under the Australian Government's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

The species is a sub-shrubby perennial reaching about 1 metre high by 1.5 - 2 metres acoss. Leaves are pinnate to 15 cm long with 19-31 leaflets. Flowers occur in racemes 10-15 cm long and flower colour is variable - either yellow with brown or orange or white and partly pink or all pink. Flowers are seen mainly in spring. The inflated seed pod is about 3 cm long - the seed makes a rattling sound when the pods are shaken. It grows in sandy-clay loam or basalt soils in eucalypt forests.

Plants have been growing for a number of years at the Mount Annan Botanic Garden in south-western Sydney. The species is being assessed for its horticultural potential and also to ensure that it does not become "weedy" outside of its natural habitat.

* ROTAP: Rare or Threatened Australian Plants (1988). J.D.Briggs and J.H.Leigh, CSIRO Division of Plant Industry (Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service, Special Publication No.14).

Thanks to John Wrigley for advice on the habit and distribution of this species.


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Australian Plants online - June 2003
Association of Societies for Growing Australian Plants