Plants of
South Australia
Frankenia pauciflora var. gunnii
Southern Sea-heath
Display all 9 images
Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
Least concern
Near threatened
Critically endangered
Data deficient
Coober Pedy
Mount Gambier
Enlarge Map
Copy Map
Copy Map
Display IBRA region text


Frankenia named after Johan Frankenius (1590-1661), a Swedish botanist. Pauciflora from the Latin 'paucus' meaning few and 'florus' meaning flowers, referring to the small number of flowers produced by the species. Gunnii named after Ronald Campbell Gunn (1808-1881), a British botanist and legislator in Launceston, Tasmania.

Distribution and status

Found scattered across southern South Australia, primarily along the coast, growing on the margins of saltmarsh and salt lakes. Also found in Victoria and Tasmania. Native. Common in South Australia. Common in the other States.
Herbarium regions: Lake Eyre, Eyre Peninsula, Murray, Yorke Peninsula, Southern Lofty, Kangaroo Island, South Eastern, Green Adelaide
NRM regions: Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Eyre Peninsula, Kangaroo Island, Northern and Yorke, South Australian Arid Lands, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin, South East
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

A small, much branched perennial shrub to 90 cm high. Leaves to 9 mm long and 2.2 mm wide, elliptic, oblong, ovate or obovate; mid-vein inconspicuous to abaxially raised, not broad or flat or very prominent. Inflorescence a terminal or axillary cluster bearing 2-25 flowers; petals 5, rarely 4, spatulate to 10.5 mm long, white. Flowers throughout the year. This variety differ from the other variety found in South Australia in having shorter but wider leaf ratio of 5:1 or less (4:1 or greater in F. pauciflora var. fruticulosa), mid-vein inconspicuous (mid-vein broad, flat, very prominent in F. pauciflora var. fruticulosa) and 7-18 ovules (6-13 in in F. pauciflora var. fruticulosa). Fruits are small brown cylindrical capsule. Seeds are very small light brown, ovoid seed to 1 mm long and 0.5 mm wide. Seed embryo type is spatulate, fully developed.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between January and December. 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. Seed set can be low but viability is high. From one collection, the seed viability was high, at 92%. Seeds are non-dormant, viable seed should germinate readily.

Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage
BGA66,000 (8.58 g)20+21-Dec-2013JRG52
South Eastern
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: