Plants of
South Australia
Asterolasia phebalioides
Rutaceae
Downy Star-bush
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock painting: 1.

Etymology

Asterolasia from the Greek 'aster' meaning star and 'lasios' meaning hairy; referring to the stellate tomentum hairs on the leaves. Phebalioides means resembling the genus Phebalium.

Distribution and status

Found in a very small area on the western side of Kangaroo Island in South Australia, growing in open woodland on ironstone and sandy soils. Also found in Victoria. Native. Very rare in South Australia. Very rare in Victoria.
Herbarium region: Kangaroo Island
NRM region: Kangaroo Island
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Small slender shrub to 1.5 m high with densely grey-silvery hairs on branches and leaves. Leaves densely crowded, lacking obvious petioles less than 1 cm long, densely stellate-tomentose hairs particularly on the lower surface. Flowers are small, star-shaped bright yellow, solitary along stems. Flowering between September and December. Fruits are brown papery capsules with a number of segments, each containing a seed. Seeds are grey to dark brown, mottle bean-like seeds to 2.2 mm long and 1.7 mm wide. Seed embryo type is linear fully developed.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between November and January. Collect capsules that are turning brown with dark seeds in each segment. Have to keep an eye on the developing capsules as it will split and release the seed quickly. An option is to enclose the developing capsules with a small breathable bag. Place the capsules in a tray and leave to dry for a week. Then rub the pods with your hands 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 high seed predation. This species is generally difficult to germinate, it has morphophysiological dormancy and complex germination requirements.

Fire response

Obligate re-seeder, no re-sprouting observed.

Longevity: 10-15 years

Time to first flowering: 3-4 years

Recovery work

In 2020-2021 this species was assessed post-fire in 1 year old fire scars. Further populations will be assessed and seeds collected on the western side of Kangaroo Island in 2021–2022. Germination screening testing the response to fire cues will be undertaken in 2021.This project was supported by the UK Bushfire Fund program.

Seeds stored:
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LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
Number
of plants
Date
collected
Collection number
Collection location
Date
stored
% ViabilityStorage
temperature
BGA 
MSB
6,000 (6.05 g)
5,000 (5 g)
10012-Dec-2006DJD672
Kangaroo Island
1-Aug-200790%+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.