Plants of
South Australia
Ptilotus propinquus
Gammon Ranges Fox-tail
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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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Botanical art

Kath Alcock painting: 1

Prior names

Ptilotus parvifolius var. laetus, partly


Ptilotus from the Greek 'ptilotos' meaning feathered or winged; referring to the hairy flowers. Propinquss from the Latin 'propinquus' meaning a relation, kinsman, or near; referring to the close relationship of this species to several other taxa in this complex.

Distribution and status

Endemic to South Australia and found in a small area in the Gammon Ranges, growing on bare shaly clay soil, on ironstone hills, gypseous breakaways or rocky gullies, with Casuarina over chenopods, or with scattered mallees. Native. Rare in South Australia.
Herbarium region: Flinders Ranges
NRM region: South Australian Arid Lands
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Much branched, strongly divaricate, rounded, subspinescent shrub to 60 cm high. Younger stems striate, glabrous, glaucous, grey-green, older wood brown. Leaves sessile, ovate or obovate, to 3.5 mm long and 1 mm wide, clustered with up to 7 leaves at young stem shoots, fleshy, glabrous on upper surface, lower surface with scattered hairs near base, grey-green, glaucous, apices mucronate, margins flat. Flower-spike short open clusters to 5 cm long, with 10–50 pink or purple flowers. Fruits are creamy with pinkish tinged, ovoid head containing numerous long papery and hairy fruits, each containing one seed. Seeds are dark brown to reddish reinform seed to 2.5 mm long and 2 mm wide. Seed embryo type is peripheral.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between October 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 contain 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 two collections, the seed viability were high, ranging from 90% to 100%. Seeds are non-dormant, viable seed should germinate readily.

Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage
BGA102 (0.1 g)60+8-Dec-2009KHB330
Flinders Ranges
BGA670 (1.27 g)50+14-Dec-2010KHB553
Flinders Ranges
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.