Friday, 12 April 2013

490 - A Map of Australia

Card no 490 - Jamie 
Australia Map 
 Country Card Sent From: Australia
 Place that Card Sender Lives: Alice Springs 
Date Received: 11th April 2013 
Distance Travelled: 9,422 miles 
Time Taken: 7 days 

This is an ideal map from one of my main map providers, Jamie. Some maps are overcrowded with detail, this one has few enough places to be clear but lots of little pictures to liven it up.

The only little picture that didn't mean anything to me was this one.

So I looked it up and it turns out to be Sturt's Desert Pea (Swainsona formosa) the Floral Emblem of South Australia . This species, a member of the pea family, Fabaceae, is confined to Australia, where it occurs in all mainland States except Victoria.

The original collection was made in 1699 by William Dampier on Rosemary Island in the Dampier Archipelago where he collected a specimen from: "a creeping vine that runs along the ground ... and the blossom like a bean blossom, but much larger and of a deep red colour looking very beautiful". This specimen is now housed in the Sherardian Herbarium, Oxford. The species was for many years included in the genus Clianthus now thought to be confined to New Zealand.

Captain Charles Sturt (1795-1869) noted the occurrence of Swainsona formosa in 1844 while exploring between Adelaide and central Australia, and the common name, Sturt's Desert Pea, commemorates this notable explorer of inland Australia, as well as indicating the plant's habitat and family. Sturt's journal, ‘Narrative of an Expedition into Central Australia’, refers several times to the beauty of the desert pea in flower and the harsh nature of its habitat, and notes that beyond the Darling River: "we saw that beautiful flower the Clianthus formosa [sic] in splendid blossom on the plains. It was growing amid barrenness and decay, but its long runners were covered with flowers that gave a crimson tint to the ground".

The genus name Swainsona honours Isaac Swainson who maintained a private botanic garden at Twickenham near London about the year 1789. The specific name formosa is Latin for 'beautiful'. The original author of the species was the Scottish botanist, George Don (1798-1856).

This is one of my favourite stamps from the lovely Australian Bush Babies series so even though I’ve shown it before it appears again -


  1. You sure do a lot of research on the cards you get. It must keep you very busy.

    1. I have the time at the moment - future ones may not always get the same attention but I hope always to do them justice.

  2. Cute card. My son has a map of Europe on his wall, with the same style. We look at it often. Spain with Don Quichotte and white windmills :-) Your card is interesting. have you ever been to Australia? I'm not even a sister of my mother immigrated to this country. Love your explanation of the Desert Pea.

    1. No, Aritha, I've never been out of the United Kingdom. I'm an armchair traveller.


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