The Green Bird Flower (Crotalaria cunninghamii) gets its name from the green bird-shaped flowers and is named after the the 19th century botanist Allan Cunningham. Crotalaria comes from the Greek-Latin word meaning a rattle or castanet.

Crotalaria cunninghamii is an native plant found growing in the inland northern parts of Australia. It can be found growing in spinifex, sandplains and sand hill / sand dune country. The plant is known to be eaten away by wild camels. Certain species of birds are also known to feast on the seeds, including the Australian Ringneck.

The flower has a beaked keel that is longer than the wing petals. As well as being notable for the large greenish yellow pea flowers, the plant also has large pods. When the seed pods are mature, they make a rattling sound when shaken. The plant has a number of uses by the aboriginal people. The Pintupi people would use the fibrous bark of the plant to make bark sandals (palykanpa in Pintupi, Pitjantjatjara), whilst other Aboriginal groups have used it in bush medicine1.

Common name
Green Bird Flower, Regal Birdflower, Bird Flower, Dwarf Bird Flower, Parrot Pea, Sandhill Rattlepod, Stuart’s Pea. Arrernte name is Alywalywere (pronouced: ail-WEL-yoor-a).

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  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Phylum: Magnoliophyta
  • Class: Magnoliopsida
  • Order: Fabales
  • Family: Fabaceae
  • Genus: Crotalaria
  • Species: C. cunninghamii
  • Binomial name: Crotalaria cunninghamii

Footnote & References

  1. Peter Latz, Bushfires and Bushtucker Aboriginal Plant Use in Central Australia, IAD Press, Alice Springs, 2004, Crotalaria cunninghamii, p153
  2. Anne Urban, Wildflowers & Plants of Inland Australia, 2001, Crotalaria cunninghamii, p90