Electronic Flora of South Australia
Electronic Flora of South Australia
Census of SA Plants, Algae & Fungi
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Electronic Flora of South Australia genus Fact Sheet

Family: Amaranthaceae

Citation: R. Br., Prod. Fl. Nov. Holl. 415 (1810).

Synonymy: Not Applicable

Common name: Greek ptilotos, leathered or winged; referring to the hairy flowers.

Shrubs, undershrubs and herbs, perennials or ephemeral annuals, glabrous, faintly pubescent or tomentose, with alternate cauline and occasionally longer basal leaves.

Flowers bisexual, usually numerous, composed in dense globular, ovoid or cylindrical spikes with a woolly rhachis, sessile or pedunculate, sometimes in compound corymbs, their bright colours ranging from lustrous white or silver through greenish-yellow to mauve and purple fading to pink; bract and 2 bracteoles scarious, mostly ovate and sharp-pointed, variously pilose, often persistent; perianth of 5 linear or sublinear rigid segments, free or shortly connate to a hardened tube, usually plumose or woolly outside except for the

fruit a small nut enclosed by the perianth.--Trichinium R. Br., Prod. Fl. Nov. Holl. 414 (1810). About 100 species endemic to arid or semi-arid subtropical and tropical regions of Australia, except one (P. conicus R. Br.) extending to southern Malaysia. Pussytails.

Biology: No text

Key to Species:
1. Shrubs and undershrubs
2. Stems and small leaves glabrous except when young
P. parvifolius 19. 2. Stems and leaves hirsute or pubescent.
3. Indumentum of crisp yellowish hairs
P. arthrolasius 2.
3. Indumentum of straight whitish hairs
4. Perianth-segments clawed; style central
P. astrolasius 3.
4. Perianth-segments not clawed; style more or less eccentric
5. Spikes mostly subsessile; outer perianth-segments with glabrous lustrous purple to dim-red apices c. 3 mm long
P. incanus 13.
5. Spikes pedunculate, solitary or paniculate; outer perianth segments with glabrous pinkish to mauve or lilac-purple apices 0.8-2 mm long
6. Flower heads loose; perianth to 15 (rarely 20)mm long, widely diverging from the axis; inner segments with internal wool
P. atriplicifolius 4.
6. Flower heads compact; perianth to 11 mm long; perianth-segments without internal wool
7. Perianth-segments more or less evenly hirsute; outer segments with subtruncate denticulate apices
P. obovatus 18.
7. Perianth-segments finally glabrous in the upper half; segments acute
P. robynsianus 21.
1. Ephemeral and perennial herbs (stem may be woody at the base)
8. Leaves silvery-silky throughout
P. helipteroides 12.
8. Leaves not silvery-silky, finally more or less glabrous
9. Stems glabrous or almost so (axils may become hirsute when sprouting)
10. Stems usually prostrate; spikes numerous, white-woolly
P. murrayi 16.
10. Stems erect or semi-erect; spike not white-woolly
11. Stems slender, wiry, glaucous, irregularly spreading
P. schwartzii 22.
11. Stems otherwise
12. Spikes c. 4-5 cm diam., purple perianth tips fading to pinkish-red
P. beckerianus 5.
12. Spikes yellowish-green to straw- or honey-coloured
13. Spike to over 5 cm diam.; bracts mostly acuminate; perianth-segments long-haired
P. macrocephalus 15.
13. Spikes less than 4 cm diam.; bracts rounded; perianth-segments very short-hairy
P. gaudichaudii 11.
9. Stems hirsute or puberulent at least in the upper parts
14. Spikes to 25 X 1.5-4 cm; bracteoles roundish, shining; leaves long and fairly narrow
P. polystachyus 20.
14. Not as above
15. Spikes less than 1.5cm diam.; bracteoles equalling or exceeding the perianth
16. Branches divaricate, often tangled; spikes white-woolly; bracts blunt
P. latifolius 14.
16. Branches not divaricate; spikes yellowish; bracts long- pointed
P. decipiens 8.
15. Spikes c. 1.5 cm diam. and over; bracteoles never level with the perianth
17. Stems prostrate to ascending
18. Spikes enveloped in a silky brilliant indumentum
19. Stem hairs appressed; numerous leaflets 0.5-1.5 cm long; dorsal pubescence uniformly covering the perianth-segments
P. symonii 25.
19. Stem hairs not appressed; leaves to 15cm long; lower portion of the perianth-segments wanting a dorsal pubescence
P. seminudus 23.
18. Spikes otherwise
20. Spikes greenish-white to cream and golden-yellow, finally cylindrical, to 12 cm long
P. spathulatus 24.
20. Spikes red, finally ovoid, to 5 cm long
P. chippendalei 7.
17. Stems usually erect
21. Spikes 4-5 cm diam
22. Perianth greyish to yellow-green
P. nobilis 17.
22. Perianth dark-violet to pinky-mauve
P. exaltatus 10.
21. Spikes 2-3.5 cm diam
23. Perianth-segments subfalcate, white-plumose out-side; bracts conspicuous, golden-brown, not awned
P. erubescens 9.
23. Perianth-segments straight, bracts long-pointed
24. Stems to 50 cm tall, with terminal paniculate branching; spikes at length cylindrical, to 6 cm long
P. blackii 6.
24. Stems 15-30 cm tall, unbranched or slightly branched, often reddish tinged in part like the leaves; spikes hemispherical to subcylindrical, to 4 cm long
P. aristatus 1.

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