Swainsona formosa, Sturt's Desert Pea, is an Australian plant in the genus Swainsona, family Fabaceae, named after English botanist Isaac Swainson, famous for its distinctive blood-red leaf-like flowers, each with a bulbous black centre, or "boss". It is one of Australia's best known wildflowers. It is native to the arid regions of central and north-western Australia, and its range extends into all mainland Australian states with the exception of Victoria.
The plant flowers from spring to summer, particularly after rain. There is a natural pure white form, as well as hybridised varieties which can have flowers ranging from blood scarlet, to pink and even pale cream, with variously coloured central bosses. Several tricolour variants have been recorded, including the cultivars marginata (white keel with red margin, red flag and purple-black boss), tricolour (white keel, red flag, pink boss), and elegans (white flag and keel, both with red margins). Flowers are bird-pollinated in the wild.
The fruit is a legume, about 5 centimetres long, and each yields 50 or more flat, kidney-shaped seeds at maturity. Most forms of the plant are low-growing or prostrate, however in the Pilbara region of north-western Australia varieties growing as tall as 2 metres have been observed.
This post is part of the Nature Footsteps Floral Macros meme,
and also part of the Ruby Tuesday meme.