Gompholobium is a genus of about 40 species all but one of which is endemic to Australia. Most species occur naturally in south-west Western Australia. They are small to medium-sized shrubs having typical “pea”-shaped flowers usually in shades or yellow or pink. The genus includes species formerly classified under Burtonia.
Gompholobium latifolium is one of the best known members of the genus as its flowers are very large in comparison with most other pea-flowered plants. It is a small, shrub to about 1.5-2 metres in height. The leafs are trifoliate with leaflets 20-50 mm long by about 2-6 mm wide. The large, bright yellow flowers appear in spring and are about 30 mm in diameter. They are followed by ovoid-shaped seed pods about 18 mm long.
The typical “pea” flowers consist of 4 petals; the “standard”, the “keel” and two “wings” as shown in the diagram.
Although of great horticultural merit, G.latifolium is only rarely cultivated. This is due to the lack of availability of plants and seed as well as to the fact that the species has not proven to be very reliable as a garden plant. It requires a well drained position in full sun or semi shade.
Propagation from seed is relatively easy 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 under the “Propagation” tab of the “Pea Family” page). The seed retains viability for many years. Cuttings using firm, current season’s growth may be successful but are usually very slow to strike.
Photo: Brian Walters