Under shade of the eucalypt

BEAUTY: The hovea is one of the earliest wildflowers to open every year.

BEAUTY: The hovea is one of the earliest wildflowers to open every year.

These little hardenbergias seem different to the large, very vibrant purple, big-leafed one usually seen. Do they have different names, or are they a different variety?

J.D., Haddon

Your smaller, paler-flowered plant is common hovea, Hovea heterophylla. It is quite a common little plant, but seldom noticed until its flowers appear in early spring. Unlike the common purple coral pea (Hardenbergia violacea), this one is not a trailer or creeper. It usually grows as a small three or four-stemmed tuft or clump.

Both species are members of the pea family and frequently grow in the same places, usually under the shelter of eucalypts.

They occur in practically all forested country south of Ballarat, and in many northern forests too.

  • Questions and photos are welcome. Send to Roger Thomas at The Courier, PO Box 21, Ballarat, 3353, or email to rthomas@vic.australis.com.au