Kennedia prostrata

Distribution Map
Family: Fabaceae subfamily Faboideae
Distribution: A widespread species in southern Australia from south Western Australia to north-east New South Wales. It occurs in a variety of habitats including open forest, woodland, grasslands and heath.
Common Name: Running postman
Derivation of Name: Kennedia... After John Kennedy, an English nurseryman
prostrata...From Latin prostratus, spreading, referring to the growth habit of the plant.
Conservation Status: Not considered to be at risk in the wild.

General Description:

The genus Kennedia consists of around 16 species, all of which are Australian endemics and all are either climbing or trailing plants. Some, such as K.retrorsa and K.nigricans, are extremely vigorous climbers. K.prostrata, on the other hand, is a non-climbing species which grows as a scrambling ground cover to about 2.5 metres in diameter. The leaves are grey-green and divided into three leaflets, a characteristic of the genus. The leaves are about 5 - 25 mm in diameter with undulating margins.

Kennedia prostrata
Kennedia prostrata
Photo: Brian Walters

The flowers are of typical "pea" shape consisting of 4 petals; the "standard", the "keel" and two "wings" as shown in the diagram. They are dull red in colour and occur in short racemes in the leaf axils in spring. They are about 25 - 30 mm long. The flowers are followed by flat seed pods 50 mm long.

Pea flower diagram   

K.prostrata is a widely cultivated species which is hardy in moist, well drained soils. It is suited to temperate to sub-tropical areas. It prefers a sunny or semi-shaded position. Under extended dry conditions it may die back to the root system and re-shoot when conditions improve. It is an excellent plant for cultivation in hanging baskets.

Propagation is easy from seed following pre-treatment to break the physical dormancy provided by the impervious seed coat. Pre-treatment can be carried out by abrasion or by the use of boiling water (further details can be found in the Seed Propagation page). The seed retains viability for many years. Cuttings strike well using firm, current season's growth.

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