Uncle Pedro took today's Botany Photo of the Day on Mt. Dale, in western Australia's Shire of Beverley. At 546 metres, the mountain stands among the highest peaks in the Darling Scarp, one of the region's most pronounced landforms. We of course extend our gratitude to Uncle Pedro for the photo, which gives us occasion to admire and discuss a plant that we have never before featured on BPotD. (Original image)
Daviesia rhombifolia is a member of Fabaceae, the third largest family of flowering plants. The family, which derives its scientific name from the Latin for 'broad bean', consists of 730 genera and over 19400 species. These species range from herbaceous annuals and perennials to massive trees, and they variously put forth economically important fruits and nuts such as beans, peas, and peanuts. While all species exhibit indeterminate inflorescences and most don alternate compound leaves, Fabaceae members (like members of Rosaceae and Grossulariaceae) are generally distinguished by showy flowers equipped with a cup-shaped hypanthium in which the basal parts of sepals, petals, and stamens are fused together.
Daviesia is a genus native to Australia, particularly to areas in the country’s southeast and southwest. It is named in honour of the Welsh botanist Hugh Davies (1739-1821), who penned a lengthy bilingual treatise on the flora of his native country's Isle of Anglesey. Typically, Daviesia species—which thrive in woodlands and shrublands—are identified by their triangular pods, their sterile bracts, and their scleromorphic (i.e., hard, leathery) leaves.
Today's plant, D. rhombifolia, is an erect shrub that presses its many stems up to a maximum height of around 1 metre, particularly when sited in hilly habitats of sandy or gravelly soil. In midsummer, the plant puts forth the flowers that today's photograph renders so nicely, and which range from different shades of yellow and red to brown in colour. Notice the thick, lime-green veins that navigate and border the simple, bluish leaves; notice too the refulgent peach-pit centre of the flower, which no doubt attracts hordes of potential pollinators.