Plants of
South Australia
Ptilotus murrayi
Amaranthaceae
Murray's Fox-tail
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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 painting: 1.

Etymology

Ptilotus from the Greek 'ptilotos' meaning feathered or winged; referring to the hairy flowers. Murrayi named after Dr James Patrick Murray, a surgeon, plant collector and a member of Howitt’s Expedition, who collected the type specimen from the flooded tracts of Wills Creek in 1861.

Distribution and status

Found in the far north-east corner of South Australia growing on alluvial areas, favouring heavy cracking clay soil. Also found in Western Australia and Queensland. Native. Uncommon in South Australia. Common in the other states.
Herbarium region: Lake Eyre
NRM region: South Australian Arid Lands
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Mat forming annual herb to 80 cm wide with creeping or ascending stems to 15 cm high, sometimes red. Leaves obtuse, spathulate or oblong-ovate, to 30 mm long and 8 mm wide. Flower-spikes solitary or 2 or 3 (rarely more), terminal or more often sessile in axils, subglobular becoming elongate to cylindrical, with cream and rose-pink flowers, resembling tiny cotton-wool balls. Flowering between February and August. Fruits are globular head containing numerous long papery and hairy fruits, each containing one seed. Seeds are dark red to dark brown reinform seed to 1 mm long and 0.7 mm wide. Seed embryo type is peripheral.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between April and September. 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. From one collection, the seed viability was average. at 70%. 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
BGA 
MSB
53,000 (44 g)
20,000 (16.85 g)
8-May-2007RJB71574
Lake Eyre
1-Aug-200770%-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.