Plants of
South Australia
Frankenia cinerea
Grey Sea-heath
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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

Frankenia maidenii


Frankenia named after Johan Frankenius (1590-1661), a Swedish botanist. Cinerea from the Latin 'cinereum' meaning ashy-grey, alluding to the grey appearance of the plant due to hairs on the stems and leaves.

Distribution and status

Found scattered in the west of South Australia, growing on the margins of salt lakes, salt pans and breakaways. Also found in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Native. Uncommon in South Australia. Uncommon in the Northern Territory. Common in Western Australia.
Herbarium regions: North Western, Nullarbor
NRM region: Alinytjara Wilurara
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Small perennial shrubs, sparsely to densely covered in hairs, with branches differentiated into long- and short-shoots. Long-shoot leaves to 3.6 mm long, decurrent with the node situated in the lower third of the leaf; leaf bases extremely reduced with the leaf blades extending below the point of insertion; leaf blades to 1.2 mm wide, ovate, oblong or rhombic, sub-terete; margins thickened, tightly revolute on fresh, dried and boiled material; mid-vein narrow, linear to somewhat broadened at the base; inconspicuous to abaxially raised, surfaces grey-green, short-shoot leaves similar to long-shoot leaves. Flowers borne at the top node of the upper branches in terminal, sometimes highly branched spike, or solitary, subtended by whorls of 4 leaf-like unequal floral bracts, connate to incompletely fused at the base, with white to pink flowers. Flowering between July and December. Fruits are small brown cylindrical capsule with 1-3 seeds. Seed embryo type is spatulate fully developed.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between October and February. Look at the tip of branches for dried flower heads. Collect the heads that are cylindrical, brown, slightly fat at the base. This should contain small ovoid seed. Place the flower heads in a tray and leave to dry for at least a week. Then rub the dried heads gently to dislodge the seeds. Use a fine sieve to separate the seeds from the unwanted material. Be careful as the seeds are very small. 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. Seeds are non-dormant, viable seed should germinate readily.