Plants of
South Australia
Ptilotus clementii
Tassel Top
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
Least concern
Near threatened
Critically endangered
Data deficient
Coober Pedy
Mount Gambier
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Prior names

Trichinium clementii


Ptilotus from the Greek 'ptilotos' meaning feathered or winged; referring to the hairy flowers. Clementii named after Emile Louis Bruno Clement (1844 - 1928), a prominent collector of ethnographic artefacts and natural history specimens from northwest Australia and the collector of the type specimen from Western Australia, between the Ashburton and De Grey Rivers in 1897.

Distribution and status

Found in the far north-west corner of South Australia, growing on sands, loams or clays, on stony hills or limestone ridges, in low open woodland or Triodia grasslands. Also found in Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland. Native. Rare in South Australia. Common in the other states.
Herbarium region: North Western
NRM region: Alinytjara Wilurara
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Erect herbs to 75 cm high with stems and leaves densely hairy, hairs persisting with age. Leaves obovate, elliptic or narrowly elliptic, to 80 mm long and 14 mm wide. Inflorescences terminal, hemispherical, ovoid, globose or shortly cylindrical, to 8 cm long, with 80 green, greenish-white or yellowish-green, apices purple flowers covered in dense hairs. Flowers most months of the year. Fruits are globular or cylindrical head containing numerous long papery and hairy fruits, each containing one seed. Seeds are brown reniform seed. Seed embryo type is peripheral.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between January and December. Be very careful when collecting this species as the fruits contain fine hairs that may cause an allergic reaction for some people. Collect the fruit heads when dried to a pale straw colour. Each fruit should come off the head easily when fingers are rubbed up the stem. Collect more fruits than required as not all fruits will have a viable seed. Be very careful when cleaning this species as the fruits contain fine hairs that may cause an allergic reaction for some people. To clean, rub the fruit heads gently to dislodge the seed at the base of each fruit. 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. Seed viability is usually high but seed availability tend to be low. Seeds are non-dormant, viable seed should germinate readily.