Plants of
South Australia
Daviesia devito
Small Spiny Bitter-pea,
Mallee Bitter-pea,
Spiny Bitter-pea
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
Least concern
Near threatened
Critically endangered
Data deficient
Coober Pedy
Mount Gambier
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock paintings: 2

Prior names

Daviesia benthamii ssp. humilis, partly

Common names

Small Spiny Bitter-pea

Mallee Bitter-pea

Spiny Bitter-pea


Daviesia named after Rev. Hugh Davies (1739-1821), a Welsh botanist and an Anglican clergyman. Devito named after Danny DeVito (1944-), who is the smaller of the two characters from the movie Twin. This species was previously included under Daviesia benthamii ssp. humilis (Benthamii named after George Bentham (1800-1884), an English botanist and author, characterised by Duane Isely as "the premier systematic botanist of the nineteenth century" and Humilis from the Latin 'humus' meaning low, referring to the low-growing habit of the plants). Following DNA sequencing, data showed that D. benthamii ssp. humilis comprise of two cryptic species that are not related to D. benthamii, this was unexpected and as an unlikely twin, the authors decided to name the two species after the actors who played an unlike pair of twins in the movie. The characters different growth parallels the different growth habit of the two species.

Distribution and status

Found in the southern part of South Australia, from the southern Eyre Peninsula to the South-east, growing in mallee on sandy or loamy, usually calcareous soils. Also found in New South Wales and Victoria. Native. Rare in South Australia. Rare in New South Wales. Uncommon in Victoria.
Herbarium regions: Eyre Peninsula, Northern Lofty, Murray, Yorke Peninsula, Southern Lofty, Kangaroo Island, South Eastern
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Dense often depressed shrubs to 60 cm high with distinctly longitudinally ribbed stems and phyllodes when dried. Phyllodes terete, to 30 mm long and 1.75 mm wide, rigid, pungent, continuous with branchlet at base. Inflorescence of 1 or 2 spike in axil with 4-6 orange to red pea-flowers. Flowering between September and November. This species is distinguished from D. schwarzenegger by having stipules, larger flowers, having longitudinally ribbed rather than wrinkled branchlets and phyllodes (when dry) and a more diminutive appearance. Fruits are pale brown half-circle pod to 7 mm long and 5.5 mm wide, with one seed inside. Seeds are pale brown with black mottled reniform seed to 3.5 mm long and 2 mm wide, and a cream aril. Seed embryo type is bent.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between November and January. Collect maturing brown seed pods from the plant using secateurs or by hand. Plant is prickly so it is advisable to wear gloves. Leave the pods in a paper bag to dry for at least a week. Rub the pods gently wiht a rubber bung to dislodge the seeds. Use a sieve to separate the seeds from unwanted material. Store the dried fruit heads with a desiccant such as dried silica beads or dry rice, in an air tight container in a cool and dry place. This species has physical dormancy that needs to be overcome for the seed to germinate (e.g. nicking or softening the seed coat). 1. Germination 85%, seed scarified (chipped with scalpel) on 1% w/v agar, 8/16 dark/light, 20�C. 2. Germination 85%, seed scarified (chipped with scalpel) on 1% w/v agar, 8/16 dark/light, 25�C. See http//

Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage

1,300 (7.04 g)
Location: BGA — the seeds are stored at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, MSB — the seeds are stored at the Millennium Seed Bank, Kew, England.
Number of plants: This is the number of plants from which the seeds were collected.
Collection location: The Herbarium of South Australia's region name.
% Viability: Percentage of filled healthy seeds determined by a cut test or x-ray.
Germination table: