Also known as Narrow-leaved Hovea, this open upright shrub to 1–2 m is common in our local woodland, but is mainly noticed when it bursts into flower in early spring.
The Purple Bush Pea has alternate, narrow, oval-shaped dark green leaves to 7 cm, with young growth covered in rusty hairs (as are the underside of mature leaves, stems and branches). The masses of mauve to purple flowers occur in the leaf axils and have the typical ‘pea’ shape consisting of four petals; the ‘standard’, the ‘keel’ and two ‘wings’. The flowers attract bees an other beneficial insects. They are followed green pods to 15 mm, which ripen to black and pop audibly when they ‘explode’ (dehisce) to release their seed.
This is a hardy shrub that does well in most well-drained soils. It will grow in full sun but prefers dappled shade and benefits from mulching. It is not particularly long lived and may need replacing after 5–7 years, but is well worth growing for the spectacular flowers.
Specimens can be seen in the eucalypt woodland planting on the hillside at the Samford EcoCorridor (https://www.facebook.com/EcoCorridor).
Article and photo © Peter Storer