Review: Sturt's Desert pea

My Wildflower Rating: My Rating 5/5

The first European to see a Sturt Desert Pea in flower was English Explorer and Navigator, William Dampier, when on the on 22 August 1699 on Rosemary Island in the Dampier Archipelago he collected samples of "a creeping vine that runs along the ground ... and the blossom like a bean blossom, but much larger and of a deep red colour looking very beautiful". Today these very samples are housed in the Fielding-Druce Herbarium at Oxford University in England.
Captain Charles Sturt (1795-1869) noted the occurrence of Swainsona formosa in 1844 while exploring between Adelaide and central Australia, and the common name, Sturt's Desert Pea, commemorates a notable explorer of inland Australia, as well as indicating the plant's habitat and family. Sturt's journal, Narrative of an Expedition into Central Australia, refers several times to the beauty of the desert pea in flower and the harsh nature of its habitat, and notes that beyond the Darling River: "we saw that beautiful flower the Clianthus formosa in splendid blossom on the plains. It was growing amid barrenness and decay, but its long runners were covered with flowers that gave a crimson tint to the ground".
Sturt's Desert Pea, Swainsona formosa, was adopted as the floral emblem of South Australia on 23 November 1961, using the name Clianthus formosus. Swainsona formosa is confined to Australia, where it occurs in all mainland States except Victoria.
Simpson Desert Colours

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