Hairy bush pea

Hairy bush pea

Sunny glades in eucalypt forests from Brisbane to Bega in NSW during early spring often reveal brilliant displays of the hairy bush pea (Pultenaea villosa). This Australian native pea grows to 2 metres tall, has an elegant weeping shape and bright golden pea flowers. The short leaves, narrow triangles with the acute angle towards the base, are covered in dense short hairs that give the whole plant a greyish bloom. High density flowering, covering the entire shrub, occurs from spring to summer and is followed by small seed pods.

The hairy pea bush is one of the more easily cultivated of the 120 ‘pultenaeas’ endemic to Australia. Although it benefits from watering in the first few weeks of planting, once established it is hardy and will only need supplementary watering in very dry conditions. It is a frost-tolerant plant and is not affected by pests and diseases. It grows best in full sun or in a lightly shaded location in well-drained soil. Flowering is boosted if the plant is supplied with a feed of slow-release native fertiliser during spring.

This species is lovely in rock gardens, Australian cottage and seaside gardens and as a mass, fill-in planting in a bush garden. It is particularly attractive if grown with the purple pea bush (Hovea acutifolia), a shrub of similar dimensions but producing purple flowers at the same time. The flowers of the hairy bush pea are rich in nectar and attract butterflies (such as the fringed blue), bees and small birds.

Pultenaea villosa, Hairy Bush Pea
Pultenaea villosa. Photograph by Neil Murphy.

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