Plants of
South Australia
Frankenia sessilis
Small-leaf Sea-heath
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
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Data deficient
Coober Pedy
Mount Gambier
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock painting: 1.


Frankenia named after Johan Frankenius (1590-1661), a Swedish botanist. Sessilis from Latin meaning sessile, stalkless or sitting on, referring to the sessile leaves.

Distribution and status

Found on the Nullarbor, Eyre Peninsula and Yorke Peninsula in South Australia growing in shrubland on saline soils. Also found in Western Australia and Victoria. Native. Common in South Australia. Rare in Victoria. Common in Western Australia.
Herbarium regions: Nullarbor, Eyre Peninsula, Murray, Yorke Peninsula
NRM regions: Alinytjara Wilurara, Eyre Peninsula, Northern and Yorke, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Low, spreading shrub to 15 cm high, covered in minute, spreading hairs. Branches differentiated into long and short-shoots. Leaves on long-shoots to 6 mm long and 1.7 mm wide, ovate to oblong, sessile or subsessile, minutely ciliate, grooved beneath; margins strongly and tightly revolute, almost concealing lower surface; surfaces greyish yellow-green, upper surface glabrous or with scattered minute hairs, lower surface with minute, spreading hairs. Short-shoot leaves similar but often shorter. Inflorescence borne at the top of the upper branches, solitary or in clusters with 2-7 white flowers. Flowering possibly throughout the year. Fruits are small brown cylindrical capsule. 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. Seeds are non-dormant, viable seed should germinate readily.