Swainsona formosa or Sturt’s Desert Pea.
Sturt’s Desert Pea, Swainsona formosa, or if you prefer the indigenous name Ngooringa, is a striking wild flowering plant native to each mainland state of Australia except Victoria.
The flower of Swainsonia formosa is generally a vibrant red with a contrasting black boss (centre). But there are many variations, including a naturally occurring white flower and many natural hybrids ranging from pink to pale reds and even a cream-coloured flower.
The centres also vary in colour from dull reddish browns to deep glossy black. Sturt’s Desert Pea is usually a prostrate plant. However, there are reports of plants growing up to two metres tall in Western Australia.
Flowering from Spring to Summer, the most spectacular occurrences happen after heavy rain. That isn’t a surprise, as this Australian native plant prefers dry inland semi-arid regions.
Swainsona formosa is the floral emblem for South Australia. It has been a favourite of artists and photographers for many years. For tourists who venture into more remote parts of Australia’s inland, spotting large patches of brilliant red flowers in the desert is a joy.