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Cactus bossiaea facts for kids

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Cactus bossiaea
Bossiaea walkeri.jpg
Bossiaea walkeri
Scientific classification
B. walkeri
Binomial name
Bossiaea walkeri
Occurrence data from AVH

Bossiaea walkeri, also known as cactus bossiaea or cactus pea, is a species of flowering plant in the pea family (Fabaceae). It is a leafless shrub that grows to between 0.5 and 2.5 metres high. Flowers are produced between July and November in the species' native range. It occurs in Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. Bossiaea gets its name from the French physician, biologist, and botanist Joseph Hughes Boissieu Martiniere (1758-1788). Walkeri is named after Alex Walker, who first collected this type of specimen from the Peel Range in New South Wales.


Bossiaea walkeri is a shrub with tangled branches that grow roughly 2m by 2m, giving the shrub a round appearance. The Bossiaea walkeri leaves are reduced to tiny scales and are about 2mm long. What looks like waxy green leaves on the branches are actually cladodes. Cladodes have a similar function to leaves, they perform photosynthesis, respiration, and transpiration. But they are more hardy than leaves, they reduce water loss and there isn't the need to replace fallen leaves.

It has 2cm pink, orange, and red pea-flowers that are produced between July and November. The flower's standard is much shorter than the wings and keel. The standard ranges between 13-17mm long, it is smooth and not auriculate, the wings are 15-16mm long, and the keel is 20-21mm long, smooth and not auriculate.


The genus Bossiaea is endemic to Australia and comprises 101 species. Morphological features of Bossiaea include: the stamens are close together and face towards the stem of the plant, anthers are dorsifixed and are the same size, and the seeds have a distinctively lobed aril. Standard and wing petals are mostly yellow, but red markings are also common.

Geographic range

Bossiaea walkeri is endemic to Australia and grows in all states except Northern Territory. In South Australia it is found in the northern part of the Eyre Peninsula in mallee woodland in red sandy soils. It is frequently found in mallee woodland in Central and South-West New South Wales, and inland Western Australia. However, it is listed as endangered in Victoria. It is also known to grow in clay, limestone, and yellow sand, and is the only species of Bossiaea to occupy arid regions.


The 2cm flowers are produced between July and November. They will often flower after seed has set to take full advantage of additional rainfall after a dry period. The fruit is a hairless, flattened 6cm by 1cm pod that contains brown seeds. The pods begin green but mature to brown, the seeds become ripe usually 2 to 3 months after flowering has finished. Then on a hot day the pods will explode to disperse the seed several metres. Birds are the primary pollinators, but small animals and insects also contribute.

Bossiaea walkeri produces a very distinct honey, although it appears to have no pastoral value.

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