Sophora tomentosa subsp. australis

Tamara Bonnemaison is the author of today’s entry. She writes:

Today I was inspired by dustaway@Flickr‘s photographs of Sophora tomentosa subsp. australis (second image), taken at the Lismore Rainforest Botanic Garden in Australia. Thank you!

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.

Sophora tomentosa subsp. australis
Sophora tomentosa subsp. australis

4 responses to “Sophora tomentosa subsp. australis”

  1. Elizabeth Revell

    Amazing to see such large woolly leaves on what to NZ is called Kowhai … Although different sp of course from ours. Our coastal ssp go for tiny leaves rather than woolly, and the seed pods, equally strongly constricted, aren’t so largely rounded as these.
    Incidentally, I took a seed pod of one of ours home from a cliff side tramp once, and forgot it was in my pocket. It went through the laundry twice before I found its crumbling a remains! The seeds were intact though, and maybe it actually helped with germination, as they all sprouted!

  2. Richard Old

    A good chance to learn the word “loment”, as this is an excellent example!

  3. marianwhit

    I was immediately reminded of my favorite, Cytisus battandieri,the Pineapple Broom tree.

  4. Tamara Bonnemaison

    The term loment, as described by Wikipedia:
    A loment (or lomentum) is a type of indehiscent legume fruit that breaks apart at constrictions occurring between segments, so that each segment contains one seed.
    Thanks for the tip, Richard!

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