Slender Darling Pea
The pea-like flowers of the slender Darling pea (Swainsona murrayana), which is listed as vulnerable (endangered plant) in NSW, are pink or purple with red stripes on hairy slender stalks. The Swainsona species contain a poison that is toxic to livestock.
Habitat – Where can we find the slender Darling pea?
The slender Darling pea is a native Australian plant found throughout NSW and has been recorded in the Jerilderie and Deniliquin areas of the southern riverine plain, the Hay plain as far north as Willandra National Park, near Broken Hill and in various localities between Dubbo and Moree. The slender Darling pea grows in a variety of vegetation types, including bladder saltbush, black box and grassland communities on level plains, floodplains and depressions. Slender Darling pea plants have been found in remnant native grasslands or grassy woodlands that have been intermittently grazed or cultivated.
After good cool-season rains, the slender Darling peas have been known to carpet the landscape.
Threats to the slender Darling pea
This plant species has been known to occur in agricultural paddocks and can still thrive in paddocks that have been only moderately grazed or occasionally cultivated. However, heavy grazing in the flowering and fruiting season, in particular, may influence the soil seed bank of the slender Darling pea and therefore threaten the future abundance of the species on travelling stock reserves and adjoining paddocks.
Other threats to the slender Darling pea include: the loss of grassland habitat to cultivation and urban development, the invasion of exotic plant species, increased salinisation, frequent fires, and rabbits and goats.
Solutions – What can be done?
To support the slender Darling pea, surveys for the species should be conducted during the flowering season before any proposed development. Where grazing has been occurring in suitable habitat, ensure that it is light and intermittent.
The Nature Conservation Trust’s work in private land conservation is helping to protect the habitat of the slender Darling pea.