Patersonia named after William Paterson (1755-1810), an early botanical collector in Australia and Lieutenant Governor of New South Wales from 1800-1810. Fragilis from Latin meaning fragile, possibly referring to the smaller so more delicate flowers of this species.
Distribution and status
Found on kangaroo Island, southern Mount Lofty Ranges and the lower South-east in South Australia, growing in wet coastal heathlands and open woodlands in sandy soils. Also found in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. Native. Uncommon in South Australia. Common in the other States.
Herbarium regions: Southern Lofty, Kangaroo Island, South Eastern
NRM regions: Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Kangaroo Island, South East
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)
Sedge-like perennial forming circular clumps to 50 cm high; greyish-green in appearance with twisted narrow-linear, rigidly erect leaves to 55 cm long and 3 mm wide, deeply grooved. Inflorescence a single blue-mauve flower at the tip of a stalk that is shorter than the leaves. Flowering between October and December. Fruits are long brown, three-celled capsule to 3 cm long, triangular in cross section. Seed embryo type is linear under-developed.
Seed collection and propagation
Collect seeds between December and March. Collect mature capsules, those that are drying off and turning pale brown with hard brown seeds inside. Place the capsules in a tray and leave to dry for one to two weeks. Then rub the capsules gently by hand to dislodge the seeds. 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. Seeds are non-dormant, viable seed should germinate readily.