The genus Kennedia consists of around 16 species, all of which are Australian endemics and all are either climbing or trailing plants. K.rubicunda is a vigorous a climber whose branches twist around the stems of other plants. Under ideal conditions it can cover large areas although not to the same extent as some other members of the genus (eg. K.retrorsa and K.nigricans). The leaves are glossy green and divided into three leaflets, a characteristic of the genus.
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 usually dull red in colour and occur in short racemes in the leaf axils in spring. They are about 35mm long by 15mm across. The flowers are followed by flat seed pods 50 to 100mm long.
Kennedia rubicunda is a hardy garden plant which is not extensively cultivated except by Australian plant enthusiasts. The species deserves to to be more widely grown and, if given room to spread, will be a long lasting addition to gardens in temperate to tropical areas. It tolerates dry conditions and would be a useful plant for growing on a trellis or pergola.
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 strike well using firm, current season’s growth.
Photo: Brian Walters