Tamara Bonnemaison is the author of today’s entry. She writes:
I had never heard of this species, and upon seeing the image of the plant in bloom, it felt very familiar – reminding me of other members of the Fabaceae such as one of my favourite species, silky lupine (Lupinus sericeus), and one of my least favourite, the locally-invasive Scottish broom (Cytisus scoparius). I then saw the photo of the fruit, and although it was obvious that these were leguminous, they were quite unlike anything that I had seen before.
The seedpods of Sophora tomentosa have resulted in the assignment of a colourful and descriptive common name: yellow necklacepod. Yellow necklacepod has 10-18 cm long pods that are strongly constricted between each of the 5-10 seeds. The indehiscent pods start out a light yellow-green, and mature to the husky brown shown in dustaway’s otherworldly photo.
Sophora tomentosa subsp. australis is an uncommon shrub of seashores in the states of Queensland and New South Wales in Australia. This subspecies is of conservation concern, likely due to the limited range and coastal development. Its leaves are covered by grey to white hairs that give this species its other common name, silver bush, as well as its Latin species name tomentosa, meaning “covered with dense woolly hairs”. Tomentose leaves are a common characteristic of coastal plant species, evolved to mitigate the heat and moisture stress common in such environments.
While researching this taxon, I learned of the work of the visual artist Sophie Munns. She has also seemingly been inspired by it. It’s worth taking a look at her series of colourful and dynamic paintings of various types of seedpods.