Platylobium formosum

Distribution Map
Family: Fabaceae subfamily Faboideae
Distribution: Woodland and open forest from western Victoria to south-east Queensland. Also occurs in the north-west of Tasmania.
Common Name: Handsome flat-pea.
Derivation of Name: Platylobium... From Greek platys, flat or broad and lobus, a pod, referring to the flat seed pod of this genus.
formosum... From Latin formosus, beautiful, referring to appearance of the plant.
Conservation Status: Not considered to be at risk in the wild.

General Description:

Platylobium is a small genus of 4 species all of which occur naturally only in eastern Australia.

Platylobium formosum
Platylobium formosum
Photo: Brian Walters

Platylobium formosum is a straggly, understory shrub from about 1 to 2 metres high with wiry stems. There are two recognised subspecies: subsp. formosum and subsp. parviflorum. The latter has narrower leaves which are not cordate (heart-shaped) and generally smaller flowers.

Pea flower diagram   

The leaves of Platylobium formosum vary from narrowly ovate to heart-shaped and are 20-50 mm long by 15-20 mm wide. There are conspicuous reticulate veins on the upper surface. The bright yellow flowers have the typical "pea" shape consisting of 4 petals; the "standard", the "keel" and two "wings", as shown in the diagram. They occur in late spring and summer, solitary or two together in the leaf axils. They have a red centre and are relatively large - 8-15 mm long. The flowers are followed by flat seed pods about 20-40 mm long.

P.formosum is not often cultivated but is grown by Australian plant enthusiasts. It is regarded as a hardy species for moist, shady sites, similar to those of its natural habitat. It requires good drainage.

Propagation is relatively easy from seed following pre-treatment with boiling water (similar to other members of the pea family). Cuttings may also be successful from firm, current season's growth.

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