Friday, October 28, 2011

It’s Wildflower Time

Swainsona queenslandica
I visited a most delightful property, last weekend, at Ramsay.
I always enjoy this time of the year when flowering herbs come into their own. In this case, the plant which made the property outstanding was the Darling pea, Swainsona queenslandica.

I am familiar with the species as a plant that is very common just west of Toowoomba, on the stony hillside black soil (sometimes called “chocolate soil”). It also introduced itself to my own garden on the red soil.
It gets mistaken for another Darling pea, Swainsona galegifolia, but can be distinguished by its wings, which are about the same length as the keel (unlike those of S. galegifolia which are only 60% of the keel’s length.)
It also has the habit of spreading by underground rhizomes, whereas S. galegifolia has a clump of semi-woody stems, all sprouting from a single crown.

My plants, and those west of Toowoomba, are bright, lipstick pink.
(See article Sep 2008)

Those I saw last weekend at Ramsay, south of Toowoomba, are orange-red. This photo shows the root structure, and the rhizome which connected this section of plant to another set of flowering stems.

They seem to be the perfect colour for accent plants in a bushland scene. I found I coveted them for use in shrubberies, to be seen from a distance, and felt very privileged to be allowed to take some of them home.
The interesting thing about the plants on this property was that in one case, they seemed to be suffering from an identity crisis, and were coming up pink. Clearly, the pink and the red forms are very closely related indeed.

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