Plants of
South Australia
Abutilon halophilum
Malvaceae
Plains Lantern-bush
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock paintings: 5.

Etymology

Abutilon from the Arabic 'aubutilun' used for mallow-like plant and quoted by the Arabian physician Avicenna as belonging to this or some allied genus. Halophilum from the Greek 'halos' meaning salt and 'philos' meaning friend, loving; referring to its saline habitat.

Distribution and status

Found in the north-eastern part of South Australia, growing on heavy clay soils, stony desert loams along floodplains and in saltbush communities. Also found in the Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales and possible in Western Australia. Native. Common in South Australia. Rare in Western Australia. Uncommon in the Northern Territory. Common in the other states.
Herbarium regions: Lake Eyre, Gairdner-Torrens, Flinders Ranges, Eastern, Eyre Peninsula
NRM regions: Northern and Yorke, South Australian Arid Lands
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Small shrub to 50 cm high covered in soft velvety hairs. Leaves on a long stalk, circular or obovate, to 3 cm long, hairy above, more densely below, margins broadly toothed except near base. Inflorescence solitary on a long stalk with yellow flower to 14 mm long. Flowering between March and November. Fruits are hairy brown papery capsule to 14 mm diameter and 10 mm long, with up to 10 segments, each with 2 densely hairy seeds. Seed embryo type is folded.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between June and February. Collect mature capsules, those that are turning pale straw colour and contain dark hard seeds. Place the capsules in a tray and leave to dry for two weeks. Then rub the capsules gently by hand to dislodge the seeds. Use a sieve to separate the unwanted material. 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. This species has physical dormancy that needs to be overcome for the seed to germinate (e.g. nicking or softening the seed coat).