Plants of
South Australia
Baloskion tetraphyllum ssp. tetraphyllum
Feather Plant
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock paintings: 3.


Tetraphyllum from the Greek 'tetra' meaning four and 'phyllon' meaning leaf; referring to the female perianth-segments.

Distribution and status

Very limited occurrences in the lower South-east of South Australia, between Millicent and Mount Gambier, usually in swamping areas. Also found in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. Native. Very rare in South Australia. Rare in New South Wales. Common in other states.
Herbarium region: South Eastern
NRM region: South East
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Dioecious perennial herb with stiff, slender and cylindrical stems, with sheathing bracts appressed, becoming brown, middle bracts producing filiform much-divided barren branches to 15cm long, the barren branchlets with minute distant leaves or scales. Spikelets several-flowered, ovoid to nearly globular, to 10mm long. Male perianth-segments 6, unequal. Female perianth-segments 4, the 2 outer ones lanceolate and folded. Fruits are long red brown heads containing numerous papery, horse-shoe crab shape fruit. Seeds are tiny, yellow orange, elliptical seed less than 1mm long. Seed embryo type is broad.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between January and February. Collection mature heads, those turning brown. Either cut the whole heads or strip the fruit from the heads with your hands. Place the heads in a tray and leave to dry for one to two weeks. Then rub the heads gently with a rubber bung to dislodge the seeds. Use a sieve to separate the unwanted material. Be very careful as the seeds are very small. 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. From one collection, the seed viability was high, at 85%.

Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage
250,000 (54.3 g)
250,000 (54.3 g)
South Eastern
28-Mar-200685%+5°C, -18°C
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.