Plants in my Garden - December 2022

Picture of Goodia Lotifolia - a mass of yellow flowers

By Mike Beamish

Species: Goodia lotifolia.

Family: Fabaceae.


Goodia: N.

lotifolia: From Latin lotus, the Lotus genus, and folium, meaning leaf. Thus, this species has leaves like a Lotus plant.

Common Name: Golden-tip, Clover Tree.

Distribution: A common understorey shrub or small tree in forests, usually in moist, shady locations, but occasionally in drier sites, along the coast and ranges of Queensland, NSW, Victoria and Tasmania. Records of this species in South Australia and Western Australia seem to have now been attributed to G. medicaginea, but some taxonomists do not recognise the latter species.

Description: Up to 5m tall and broad, often suckering, sometimes with reddish branches. Leaves are trifoliolate, like large clover leaves and the leaflets are ovate to obovate, up to 35mm long and 20mm wide, bluish to grey-green on top and paler underneath. Flowers occur over winter and spring and are a typical pea-flower shape about 15mm across in terminal or leaf-opposed racemes, bright yellow with a reddish blotch at the base of the standard petal. These form into 3cm long brown pods, which will spring open in warm weather to eject the ripe seeds away from the parent plant.

Opinion: This species has led a chequered life in my garden. I cannot remember the provenance of the original plant, whether I obtained it from a nursery or grew it myself from seed or cuttings obtained locally, but I remember that it was a bit of a nuisance, suckering madly around the garden bed. Eventually, the area became so overgrown I pulled it all out and started over. The original plant was cut down to a stump, thinking it would re-sprout or continue suckering, but no, it promptly carked it and disappeared from the garden.

Another characteristic of this species is its prolific flowering and consequent development of abundant seed pods, which then commence firing their ripe seeds all over the place during the warm days of summer. Hence, after a couple of seasons there must be a pretty substantial build-up of seed stored in the soil and mulch. Not surprisingly, a couple of years ago some seedlings started to appear around the original location, as well as in the vegetable garden on the other side of the adjoining fence and in the pots in my nursery area, also on the other side of the fence. Some of these I’ve dug up and transplanted into pots, others just fade away on their own, but one I’ve left to its own devices roughly in the area of the original and this one has sprung up into a leggy shrub about 3m tall and is now flowering full tilt. No doubt in a month or two, there will be more seeds pinging off the fence!

The Australian Plants Society Latrobe Valley Group hosts monthly activities, excursions and /or meetings. Interested persons are welcome to join in, please contact Mike for more information, email or phone 0447 452 755.

Sources: Sharr – WA Plant Names and their Meanings

Corrick & Fuhrer – Wildflowers of Victoria

Elliot and Jones – Encyclopaedia of Australian Plants, Volume 4

Online – VicFlora: Flora of Victoria, Electronic Flora of South Australia and FloraBase: the WA Flora.

Pimg Goodia Lotifolia 2