The genus Hovea consists of around 20 species, all of which are Australian endemics.
Hovea acutfolia is a small to medium shrub from 1.5-4 metres tall, often of upright growth habit. The stems and branches are covered with dense, grey to rusty hairs. The dark green leaves are elliptical or lanceolate in shape and up to 70 mm long x 12 mm wide. The new growth has a rusty appearance.
The flowers have the typical “pea” shape consisting of 4 petals; the “standard”, the “keel” and two “wings”, as shown in the diagram. The flowers are blue to mauve/purple and occur in the leaf axils and appear in spring.
Several Hovea species are reasonably well known in cultivation. H.acutifolia has been grown for many years by Australian native plant enthusiasts and has proven to be adaptable in temperate and sub-tropical areas where it prefers a well drained soil in a partly shaded position.
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 under the “Propagation” tab of the “Pea Family” page). The seed retains viability for many years. Cuttings of hardened, current season’s growth strike readily.
Photo: Brian Walters