Plants of
South Australia
Eriocaulon australasicum
Eriocaulaceae
Austral Pipewort
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
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Near threatened
Rare
Vulnerable
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Critically endangered
Extinct
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Adelaide
Arkaroola
Ceduna
Coober Pedy
Hawker
Innamincka
Marla
Marree
Mount Gambier
Oodnadatta
Renmark
Wudinna
Keith
Yunta
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Etymology

Eriocaulon from the Greek 'erion' meaning wool and 'kaulos' meaning stem, alluding to the scapes of some species. Australasicum means of, or from Australasia, referring to the species' distribution.

Distribution and status

Observed on both sides of the South Australian-Victorian border, growing in shallow, seasonally inundated Chorizandra enodis shallow swamp associated with Villarsia reniformis, Myriocephalus rhizocephalus, Gratiola pumilo, Centrolepis polygyna, Craspedia paludicola, Goodenia gracilis, Ottelia ovalifolia, Isoetes drummondii, Myriophyllum glomeratum and Utricularia barkeri. Plants start to grow in shallow water (up to 20 cm deep), particularly where the water is clear and the substrate high in organic matter, in early to late summer in 1 in 20 year high seasonal rainfall events. They are less common in turbid water. Also found in New South Wales and Victoria. Critically endangered in South Australia, similarly in VIC and NSW. Last recorded in VIC in 2010.
Herbarium region: South Eastern
NRM region: South East
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Small grass-like aquatic forb to 5 cm tall. Leaves at the base of the plant to 50 cm long and 1.5 mm wide; linear, with a long point. Male and female flowers on the same plant. Individual flowers small to 3 mm across, in oval to almost globular heads on the ends of a long ribbed leafless stalks, surrounded by bracts. Male flowers with 6 'petals', the inner 3 fused into a 3-lobed tube, female flowers with no petal. Flowers in early summer. Flowering and seed-set follow rapidly as the water level drops and the depressions dry out. Fruits are round fruit heads turning brown as it matures. Seed embryo type is broad.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between January and March. Carefully pick the browning fruit heads by hand. These will have mature seeds which are hard and yellow-orange. Place the fruit heads in a tray and leave to dry for a week. Then gently rub the heads by hand. Use a fine sieve to separate the unwanted material. Be carefully which part you discard as the seeds are very small and will probably fall through your sieve. 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.