Sturt Desert Pea – The beautiful Alien


Sturt’s Desert Pea (Swainsona formosa) of the Fabaceae family is one of the most striking looking Australian native flowering plants. The shape of the bight crimson coloured flowers with its black centre have an alienness to them that to me can only be described as otherworldly.

Endemic to Australia’s arid regions Sturt’s Desert Pea can be found in all mainland states except Victoria. It’s a sprawling creeper that grows to a hight of 15 centimetres.


The earliest Western sightings of the plant recorded were  by the explorer William Dampier on his exploration of New Holland in 1699. However, the common name goes to another seafarer, Captain Charles Sturt, who recorded seeing large numbers on his exploration of central Australia between 1844 and 1845. Sturt’s Desert Pea is the floral emblem of South Australia.

There are several indigenous Australian legends that link the plant to emotions of grief and sorrow and one of those is the  sad tale of Wimbakobolo and Purleemil.


“In times of grief and sorrow I will hold you and rock you and take your grief and make it my own. When you cry I cry and when you hurt I hurt. And together we will try to hold back the floods to tears and despair and make it through the potholed street of life”
― Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook


The founder of the Australian Bush Flower Essences, Ian White, describes Sturt Desert Pea and Waratah to be the most powerful of all the bush essences. He writes: ‘The main property of the Sturt Desert Pea remedy is that it resolves very deep pain and sorrow. This remedy works extremely quickly in almost all cases, even when the pain has been harboured for many years, even as far back as a previous life.’ 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine theory grief and sadness are linked to the lungs and this essence has been found to be effective to clear lung and breathing difficulties.

The harmonising aspects of the essence when a person feels pain, deep hurt or sadness are letting go, the diffusion of sad memories and it’s motivating & re-energising.

© 2013. Annette Zerrenthin

White, Ian. Australian Bush Flower Essences. Bantam Books, 1991.
White, Ian. Australian Bush Flower Healing. Bantam Books, 1999.
Morcombe, M.K. Australia's Western Wildflowers. Landfall Press, 1968.
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