Hop Bitter-pea

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Description

Common names

Hop Bitter-pea, Bitter-leaf, Broad-leaved Bitter Pea, Hop Bitter Pea.

Scientific names

Daviesia latifolia.

Family

Fabaceae.

Genus

Daviesia.

Name origin

Daviesia, after botanist the Rev. Hugh Davies (1739-1821). Latifolia, from Latin latus, broad, and folium, leaf, referring to broad "leaves".

Rainfall

500mm.

Growth rate

Fast.

Growth height

1-3m.

Presence in Australia

Quite widespread, predominantly east of the Hume Highway.

This specie has been identified in the following Australian states: Qld, NSW, ACT, Vic, Tas.

Habitat

Dry sclerophyll communities and woodland, to 1800m altitude.

Habit

Open shrub 1-3m high (rarely to 5m). Broad dull green "leaves" and many tough erect branches.

Site preference

Well-drained soil in dappled shade or partial sun. Tolerates frost and full sun.

Characteristics

Adaptable to most soils.

Flowering

Orange-yellow with dark reddish markings, Sep-Dec. Showy.

Seed collection

Early Dec to late Jan. Monitor very closely as seeds released immediately or 1-2 days after maturity. To ensure collection, cover fruiting branches with nylon stockings or paper bags after flowering. When ripe, pods light-brown and brittle and rattle when shaken, with dark-coloured seed. May be difficult to obtain seed in useful quantities. Long storage life.

Propagation

From scarified seed. Soak in near-boiling water for about 30 seconds, before cooling rapidly under flowing cold water. Alternatively soak in cold water for several hours. Dry to prevent rotting, before sowing. Germination takes 3-8 weeks. Suitable for direct seeding in pots (2-3 seeds per pot).

Regeneration

From seed or suckers, particularly after fire. Other Daviesia species establish well from direct seeding, although seed shortages may preclude this method.

Shade and shelter

Useful low-level cover in windbreaks.

Land protection

Useful understorey in recharge plantings, and for improving soil fertility, through "fixing" nitrogen.

Wildlife

Good habitat. Flowers provide pollen and excellent nectar, food for various insects and native birds.

Ornamental

Very decorative with interesting foliage and attractive perfumed flowers. Plant in clumps to form dense thickets for best effect.

Other

"Leaves" and stems produce fawn dye with alum as mordant. "Leaves" have medicinal properties and were substituted for hops. Reputedly used as drug that expels intestinal worms by European settlers. "Leaf" decoction taken to expel hydatid cysts, and also as tonic.