Plants of
South Australia
Crotalaria cunninghamii ssp. sturtii
Leguminosae
Green Bird-flower
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Adelaide
Arkaroola
Ceduna
Coober Pedy
Hawker
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Etymology

Crotalaria from the Greek 'crotalon' meaning a rattle, castanet, referring to the sound the dried seed pods make when shaken. Cunninghamii named after Allan Cunningham (1791-1839), an English botanist and explorer, primarily known for his travels in Australia to collect plants. Sturtii named after Captain Charles Sturt (1795-1869), a British explorer of Australia, and part of the European exploration of Australia.

Distribution and status

Found mainly in the north-east corner and extending to the north-west corner of South Australia growing on sandy soils, usually sand dunes. Also found in Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales. Native. Common in South Australia. Very rare in New South Wales. Common in the other States.
Herbarium regions: North Western, Lake Eyre, Gairdner-Torrens, Eyre Peninsula
NRM regions: Alinytjara Wilurara, Eyre Peninsula, South Australian Arid Lands
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Erect shrub to 2 m high; branches stout, velvety, softly woody. Leaves 1-foliolate, rarely a few 3-foliolate; leaflets ovate to obovate, often broad, to 9 cm long and 6 cm wide; thick, softly- to velvety-tomentose on velvety petioles to 3 cm long. Pea-flowers large, yellow-green with purple veins in dense clusters. Flowering between May and October. Fruits are yellow-brown narrow-obovate pod to 45 mm long and 12 mm; velvety. Seeds are orange-brown reinform seed to 7 mm long and 5 mm wide with a smooth surface. Seed embryo type is bent.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between August and November. Collect mature pods, those that are fat, turning yellow-brown and contain hard seeds. Place the pods in a tray and leave to dry for one to two weeks. Then use a rubber bung to rub the pods or break the pods open with your fingers to dislodge the seeds. Use a sieve to separate the unwanted material. Store the seeds with a desiccant such as dried silica beads or dry rice, in an air tight container in a cool and dry place. From one collection, the seed viability was high, at 95%. This species has physical dormancy that needs to be overcome for the seed to germinate (e.g. nicking or softening the seed coat).

Seeds stored:
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LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
Number
of plants
Date
collected
Collection number
Collection location
Date
stored
% ViabilityStorage
temperature
BGA3,400 (139.72 g)8027-Sep-2007MJT94
Lake Eyre
19-Sep-200895%-18°C
BGA1,000 (49.74 g)28-Sep-2011Alton Downs
Lake Eyre
1-Nov-201296%-18°C
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.