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Lessertia frutescens

Lessertia frutescens
Stand of seedlings in May, from a late-winter start

Synonym(s) Sutherlandia frutescens
Common name balloon pea
Family fabaceae
Life cycle shrub (Z9b-11)
Flowers red
Size 18-36"
Light sun
From seed soak in warm water, germinate at room temperature
detailed seed-starting info below

Tender species from southern Africa, must probably be grown as an annual even in our subtropical Gulf Coast climate – but it looks to be quite striking, so if it blooms first year, it will be worth it. Fine compound leaves with gray-green leaflets, orange-red flowers in short racemes at the tips of the branches, followed by bladder-like papery seed pods that are attractive in their own right. There appears to be a great deal of confusion over its proper scientific name, with both of my taxonomy resources saying Sutherlandia frutescens is the accepted name, but many other sources claiming its proper name is now Lessertia.

In our garden, this plant grows in the following area: left fence nursery area

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PlantLinks to other web pages about Lessertia frutescens

Seed-starting details for this plant

  1. Seed from T&M '04, via trade. Poured hot water over seeds, let soak for a few hours. Baggy 70F (6w; 67%G, 3-13d)
  2. Seed from NARGS '20/'21 exchange. Sandpapered, baggy 70F (56%G, 4-25d)
  3. Same seed as above. Baggy 70F (20%G, progressively with sandpapering, 4-30d)

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