Swainsona greyana

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Swainsona greyana
Swainsona greyana subsp. greyana.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Swainsona
Species: S. greyana
Binomial name
Swainsona greyana
Lindl. [1]

Swainsona greyana, commonly known as Darling Pea or Hairy Darling Pea, is a shrubby perennial in the family Fabaceae that is native to Australia. It grows to 1.5 metres high, has hairy stems and pinnate leaves that are 10 to 15 cm long.[2] Racemes of 12 to 20 pea flowers are produced from September to March in the species native range.[3] These have white, pink or purple corollas. The pods that follow are elliptic in shape and 30 to 50 mm long.[2]

It occurs on the banks of the lower Murray and Darling Rivers in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales.[2][3] The species was first formally described in 1846 by English botanist John Lindley in Edward's Botanical Register.

The plant contains the alkaloid swainsonine causing alpha-mannosidosis, a risk to grazing livestock.[4][5]

In 2014, thousands of livestock mostly sheep were killed in western New South Wales region, after consuming darling pea, due to its addictive nature. As toxicity builds up it attacks an enzyme involved in metabolism, leading crippling of an animal’s central nervous system, and symptoms like erratic behaviour, loss of co-ordination and depression. Previously in January 2013, a bush fire had burnt 53,000 hectares of the Warrumbungle National Park and farms at Coonabarabran leaving the weeds no competition and they rapidly spread in the area.[6][7]


  1. ^ "Swainsona greyana". Australian Plant Name Index (APNI), IBIS database. Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian Government, Canberra. Retrieved 2010-09-10. 
  2. ^ a b c "Swainsona greyana". PlantNET - New South Wales Flora Online. Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust, Sydney Australia. Retrieved 2010-09-10. 
  3. ^ a b "Swainsona greyana". Electronic Flora of South Australia Fact Sheet. State Herbarium of South Australia. Retrieved 2010-09-10. 
  4. ^ C. R. Huxtable and P. R. Dorling. Poisoning of livestock by Swainsona spp,: current status. Australian Veterinary Journal, Vol. 59, August, 1982 50-53
  5. ^ Steven M. Colegate, Peter R. Dorling, & Clive R. Huxtable. Swaisonine: a toxic indolizidine alkaloid from the Australian Swainsona species. In Handbook of Natural Toxins: Toxicology of Plant and Fungal Compounds, ed. R.F. Keeler. CRC Press, 1991.
  6. ^ "Addictive native weed Darling Pea killing hundreds of livestock in western NSW". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 16 May 2014. Retrieved 2014-05-18. 
  7. ^ "Thousands of sheep in Australia die from ‘banging their heads till they crack open’ after eating poisonous plant". The Independent. 18 May 2014. Retrieved 2014-05-18.