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Products > Psoralea pinnata
Psoralea pinnata - Scurfy Pea Shrub
Image of Psoralea pinnata
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Fabaceae = Pea Family
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Lavender Blue
Bloomtime: Spring/Summer
Fragrant Flowers: Yes
Synonyms: Fountain Bush or Bloukeur
Height: 8-10 feet
Width: 8-12 feet
Exposure: Cool Sun/Light Shade
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30 F
Psoralea pinnata (Scurfy Pea Shrub) - A fast growing erect evergreen shrub to 8-10 feet tall and 10+ feet wide that with age can become bare at the base, making it look more like a small tree. The dark green compound leaves densely cover the stems with the needle shaped leaflets that are soft to the touch. In spring and summer appear the showy sweet smelling 1/2 inch wide lavender-blue and white pea flowers that are produced in abundance on the branch tips.

Plant in sun or light shade - will bloom well in full sun and when grown with only morning sun or light shade. Water regularly to only occasionally - it requires winter moisture, which it usually will get in normally wet winters in California and occasional irrigation through the bloom season keeps it flowering well and looking its best. Plants can be grown drier but then tend to be lower growing and a bit sparser. It is hardy to short duration temperatures down to 25-27 F - our plantings in the nursery withstood the January 2007 freezes with 3 nights in a row with a low temperature or 25F with only tip damage but did not survive our December 1990 freeze with temperatures recorded down to 18F and others note that longer duration temperatures not much below freezing can be damaging. It grows well near the seashore in exposed situations but is not a terribly long-lived shrub and may need to be replaced with younger plants after 4 to 7 years when it gets too open and sparse. It will often reseed nearby in the garden and seedlings are fast growing and can be easily moved to sustain a garden planting.

Psoralea pinnata is native to Cape region north into the Transvaal of South African where it can be found along the seashore at Hermanus in the southwestern Cape upwards onto the surrounding mountains, including on Table Mountain. Near the sea it is usually found in full sun but inland it often is in the understory or near water seeps. The name for the genus comes from the Greek word 'psoraleos' which means "warty" or "scurfy", in reference to the wort like markings on the bark and the specific epithet refers to the pinnate leaves. This is a nice plant for coastal California and in Santa Barbara a nice stand can be found growing at Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden, where it is lovingly known as the Kool Aid bush because of the smell of the flowers. We have grown this plant at our nursery since 1988. 

This information about Psoralea pinnata displayed on this web page is based on research we have conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations we have made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens visited, as well how our crops have performed in containers in the nursery field. Where appropriate, we will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share cultural information that would aid others in growing this plant.