02 September 2011

Daviesia pachyphylla - Ouch Bush

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Daviesia pachyphylla - Ouch Bush

This particular shrub would have to be one of the most unusual of the pea-flowers (Fabaceae), especially regarding the very fleshy (succulent) blue/green foliage. The leaves are up to 2.5 cm (1”) in length, firm and thicker than a pencil, but with the most viscous sharp point, guaranteed to draw blood unless great care is taken when handling and fully deserving its common name of Ouch Bush. Nevertheless, it is a most interesting looking plant, growing to 1.2 metres (4’) in height in a low heath habitat on a high range of sandy loams overlying eroded granite. This habitat is very dry and windswept with most vegetation stunted and low to the ground, leaving these shrubs to tower over them.

In this harsh environment, Daviesia pachyphylla is very common, but largely restricted to it. From a photographic point of view these plants are difficult to do them justice, as they are very open with an equally interesting and colourful background, enabling them to melt into it imperceptivity. This is further assisted by them not growing close together (permitting easy passage between), so difficult to establish a focal point, also the lower fleshy leaves tend to fall during hot dry weather, although those growing alongside the 4WD track with deeper soils and additional rainwater run-off, are less affected.

Daviesia pachyphylla is found from the Stirling Range (NE of Albany) to Ravensthorpe, which is outside my survey area, however the above colony occurs 55 km (34 miles) ENE of Ravensthorpe, or 125 km (80 miles) NW of Esperance and probably represents its most easterly distribution.

The yellow and red/brown flowers are recorded from May to September, but this would depend on local climate conditions. Locally July and August would be the usual period considering average weather conditions.