Plants of
South Australia
Acaena ovina
Downy Sheep's Burr
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock paintings: 3.


Acaena from the Greek 'acaina' meaning a thorn, referring to the genus prickly fruit. Ovina meaning of or like sheep.

Distribution and status

Found across the Mount Lofty Ranges and the lower South-east in South Australia. Also found in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. Native. Common in South Australia. Common in the other States.
Herbarium regions: Northern Lofty, Murray, Southern Lofty, South Eastern
NRM regions: Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin, South East
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Prostrate herb to 50 cm high, lacking stolons. Leaves narrowly obovate to oblanceolate, with 5 or more pairs of leaflets, usually 8-12 cm long (including the petiole); glabrous or sparsely appressed sot hairs above, denser below. Flowers in interrupted spikes, dark-purple. Fruits are woody ovoid fruit covered in hairs and spines.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between November and February. Strip seeds off the flower spike that are turning brown using a pair of gloves as the fruits are spiny. Place the seeds in a tray and leave to dry for 1 to 2 weeks. 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 90%. Seeds are non-dormant, viable seed should germinate readily.

Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage

8,700 (102.7 g)
Southern Lofty
BGA2,000 (18.97 g)115-Nov-2007RJB75642
Northern Lofty
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.