Daviesia rhombifolia

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. &#40Original 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.

Daviesia rhombofolia

19 responses to “Daviesia rhombifolia”

  1. M.G.Hamilton

    Blue leaves? This must be very unusual.
    Where is the chlorophyll?

  2. Meg Bernstein


  3. chico

    Gorgeous! These daily photos are such a treat and the information is so enlightening. thank you.

  4. Vicki

    MG – your question about “where is the chlorophyll?” is often asked when leaves have other colors like red or purple. The green part is simply over shadowed by the more dominant anthocyanins and other pigments. The one leaf here does have a blue tint, but the darkest colors are of unopened flowers.
    This IS an incredible photo – thank you so much!!!

  5. annie morgan

    Gracias Uncle Pedro for a most impressive photograph.

  6. Cheryl Herries

    WOW! Amazing plant. The flowers and leaves are all astonishingly beautiful. Thanks so much for posting this.

  7. Jinian

    This one’s really gorgeous. Thanks!
    In my experience, a blue leaf color is not due to pigments, but to optical effects created by a thick cuticle on the epidermis. What I don’t know is whether it’s an incidental effect of refraction, like the sky, or a microscale pattern, like the blue on birds’ feathers. The latter would imply an adaptive value to the color, so I’m skeptical — but wouldn’t that be neat?

  8. AdoAnnie

    I remember doing experiments in high school biology class where we crushed leaves of different colors into a solvent then did paper chromatagraphs to see the green pigment rise up on the chromatagraph paper separate from what other color/colors were were masking it. Multicolored coleus leaves had lovely chromatagraphs.

  9. The Hollyberry Lady

    Are there any words!
    : O

  10. Eric Simpson

    Is there a common name for this lovely beastie?

  11. elizabeth a airhart

    my we are a love are we not
    have not found a common name as yet
    have you been reading about the giant rat eating
    nepenthes plant nepenthes attenboroughi
    wonderful pictures great reading
    thank you uncle pedro

  12. Susan Gustavson

    Absolutely gorgeous! Is this anything that would make its way into a cultivated garden? Or is it one of those wild lovelies we have to make a pilgrimage to see? Thanks, Uncle Pedro.

  13. Dennis

    Many Daviesia species go by the common name, “Bitter-Pea,” but a quick scan of the scant literature reveals no obvious common names for this species. A direct Latin translation yields:
    “Lozenge-leaved Bitter-pea.”

  14. Dennis

    Oh, and I really like the composition of this photo! The unopened buds remind me of the classic stroboscopic photo of a bouncing ball.

  15. Mary Ann, in Toronto

    Wow! Stunning!

  16. Tree Zed

    Truly beautiful.

  17. Nancy

    Too too good to be true!

  18. UnclePedro

    There are at least 18 species of Daviesia near my home town of Perth, Western Australia. Mt Dale is about 50km out. They are wonderfully diverse in appearance (all have similar pea flowers). There does not appear to be a common name for the D. rhombifolia (or many others of the family). I am lucky to be in an environment blessed with an amazing array of native flora (and fauna). Thanks Steve for posting my photo.

  19. Denis

    Beautiful, I always like blooms that do the “fade” whhere they are dark in the center then gradually fade to a lighter color at the edges.
    I like “Shire”, it sounds much nicer that the equivalent in most US states: town, township, or borough.

Leave a Reply