Templetonia retusa

Distribution Map
Family: Fabaceae subfamily Faboideae
Distribution: Woodland and heath in South Australia and Western Australia on limestone, generally along the coastal strip from about Kangaroo Island to Shark Bay. Also in the Flinders Ranges in South Australia.
Common Name: Cocky's tongues
Derivation of Name: Templetonia... After John Templeton, an 18th century botanist.
retusa.... From Latin retusus, dull or blunt, referring to the blunt, notched tips of the leaves.
Conservation Status: Not considered to be at risk in the wild.

General Description:

The genus Templetonia is a small genus of 8 species, all of which occur only within Australia. They are small to medium shrubs.

Templetonia retusa
Templetonia retusa
Photo: Brian Walters

Templetonia retusa is a shrub from 1 to 2 metres in height often with an upright habit of growth. The leaves are greyish green, oblong to wedge-shaped, usually with a blunt, indented tip. They bare 15-40 mm long and 7-25 mm wide.

Pea flower diagram   

The flowers are quite large, from 25 to 40 mm long and have the typical "pea" shape consisting of 4 petals; the "standard", the "keel" and two "wings", as shown in the diagram. They are usually a deep red in colour but white and yellow flowered forms are known. They are seen in winter to spring over a fairly long period. The flowers are attractive to honey-eating birds and are followed by linear-oblong seed pods about 40-50 mm long by 10 mm wide.

Templetonia retusa has been in cultivation for many years and it is an attractive and hardy plant suited to a range of climates. Despite its natural habitat in a dry Mediterranean climate, it has proved to be reliable in the more humid temperate climates of the east coast. It requires well drained soils in sun or semi-shade and tolerates at least moderate frost.

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 are also successful using firm, current season's growth.


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