Do you think I am too orchid-obsessed in my photography? Well, undoubtedly you’re right. But I’m going to use Swainsona, a wonderful genus of native peas, as proof that I can also point a camera at other flowers too…
That being said, Swainsona are kind of like the orchids of the pea world. They are short little herbs, wonderfully colourful, often hard to find, and many species are rare. There are 84 species endemic to Australia and 1 found only in New Zealand. Most species are purple or purple-pink but perhaps the most famous Swainsona is bright red and black - Sturt’s Desert Pea! Yep, I told you they were cool.
In September, Marc showed me around the grasslands of Terrick Terrick National Park in northern Victoria. We found orchids too (Diuris protena) but I spent all my time with the Swainsona…yep.
I was having a great time with my newly acquired (second hand) Zeiss 100mm lens. I’ve already noticed that is has a wonderful ability to blur the background, yet still retain contrast in background features. Add to that an extra stop of light (maximum aperture f2 compared with f2.8 from the Canon 100mm macro) and you have the ability to create dreamy images with very smooth and luxurious features.
The first three images are of Swainsona procumbens which has quite large flowers as far as Swainsona goes. The corolla forms a fascinating and somewhat phallic tube against the backdrop of the two large petals which are actually very floppy and wave around in the breeze.
The bottom two images are of two other species we found in the area. The first, Swainsona murrayana, is a rare species listed as Endangered in Victoria, and Vulnerable in Australia (EPBC and IUCN). The flowers had very odd shapes. Second is Swainsona behriana which is a common species throughout south-eastern Australia and which we found in woodland at the Mitiamo cemetery. Apparently we also missed a fourth species in the grasslands, Swainsona plagiotropis, which I guess will have to wait until next time.