Plants of
South Australia
Ptilotus erubescens
Amaranthaceae
Hairy Heads
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
Least concern
Near threatened
Rare
Vulnerable
Endangered
Critically endangered
Extinct
Data deficient
Adelaide
Arkaroola
Ceduna
Coober Pedy
Hawker
Innamincka
Marla
Marree
Mount Gambier
Oodnadatta
Renmark
Wudinna
Keith
Yunta
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock paintings: 5.

Etymology

Ptilotus from the Greek 'ptilotos' meaning feathered or winged; referring to the hairy flowers. Erubescens from the Latin 'erubesco' meaning blushing or becoming red; referring to the presence of pink bracts on the predominantly green flower as it mature, give them the appearance of blushing.

Distribution and status

Found mainly in the southern Flinders Ranges and Mount Lofty Ranges in South Australia with an isolated destruction near Bordertown, growing in fertile soil in grassy woodland. Also found in New South Wales and Victoria. Native. Rare in South Australia. Uncommon in the other states.
Herbarium regions: Flinders Ranges, Northern Lofty, Murray, Southern Lofty, South Eastern
NRM regions: Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Northern and Yorke, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin, South East
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Erect perennial herb with a woody rootstock and stems to 40cm tall, hairy when young. Leaves clustered at the base of the plant and alternating up the stems. Basal leaves to 120 mm long and 4mm wide, stem leaves to 30 mm long and 3mm wide, linear to narrow and flat, hairy becoming hairless, with pointed tips. Flower-spikes spherical to oval, solitary at the tops of the stems with greenish to red or purple, covered with silvery white hairs. Flowering between October to February. Fruits are whitish globular head containing numerous long papery and hairy fruits, each containing one seed. Seeds are orange-brown, reniform to 3 mm long and 2 mm wide. Seed embryo type is peripheral.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between December and March. 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.

Seeds stored:
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LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
Number
of plants
Date
collected
Collection number
Collection location
Date
stored
% ViabilityStorage
temperature
BGA780 (8.66 g)25+9-Jan-2006KHB45
Southern Lofty
28-Jul-200625%-18°C
BGA 
MSB
2,900 (26.04 g)
2,900 (26.04 g)
100+10-Jan-2006DDC1422
Northern Lofty
28-Jul-200635%+5°C, -18°C
BGA690 (0.6 g)100+22-Dec-2008TST679
Southern Lofty
20-Jul-200970%-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.
Germination table:
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