Plants of
South Australia
Alternanthera angustifolia
Narrow-leaf Joyweed
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
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Alternanthera from the Latin 'alternus' meaning alternate and 'anthera' meaning anthers, referring to the filaments without anthers often alternate with fertile stamens. Angustifolia from the Latin 'angustus' meaning narrow and 'folium' meaning leaf, referring to the narrow leaf of the species.

Distribution and status

Found in the north and north-eastern parts of South Australia growing in sandy soil on creeks and river banks. Also found in Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales. Native. Common in South Australia. Common in the other states.
Herbarium regions: North Western, Lake Eyre, Gairdner-Torrens, Eastern
NRM regions: Alinytjara Wilurara, South Australian Arid Lands
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Prostrate or decumbent annual herbs with glabrous or sparsely hairy leaves, oblong to narrow-obovate to 5 cm long. Flowers white in cylindrical spike. Flowers throughout the year. Fruits are pale brown, semi-flat fruit to 2 mm long with 5 papery bracts and covered in hairs. Seeds are orange to brown reniform seed to 1.5 mm long. Seed embryo type is peripheral.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between January and December. Collect mature fruits, those that are turning a pale straw colour and contain very small brown seeds. Can collect individual spike or break off the whole stem. Place the fruit in a tray and leave to dry for two weeks. Then rub the fruits gently by hand to dislodge the seeds. Use a sieve to separate the unwanted material. Be careful as the seeds are very small, less than 2mm across. Store the seeds with a desiccant such as dried silica beads or dry rice, in an air tight container in a cool and dry place. Not all fruit will contain a seed. From one collection, the seed viability was high, at 90%. Seeds are non-dormant, viable seed should germinate readily.

Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage
BGA18,000 (10.64 g)20+9-May-2007RJB71593
Lake Eyre
Location: BGA — the seeds are stored at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, MSB — the seeds are stored at the Millennium Seed Bank, Kew, England.
Number of plants: This is the number of plants from which the seeds were collected.
Collection location: The Herbarium of South Australia's region name.
% Viability: Percentage of filled healthy seeds determined by a cut test or x-ray.