Plants of
South Australia
Cullen graveolens
Leguminosae
Native Lucerne
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
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Near threatened
Rare
Vulnerable
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Data deficient
Adelaide
Arkaroola
Ceduna
Coober Pedy
Hawker
Innamincka
Marla
Marree
Mount Gambier
Oodnadatta
Renmark
Wudinna
Keith
Yunta
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock paintings: 5.

Etymology

Cullen named after William Cullen (1710-1790), a Scottish physician and chemist who lectured at the University of Glasgow on botany, among other things . Graveolens from the Latin 'gravis' meaning heavy and 'oleo' meaning smell, referring to the unpleasant smell of the plant.

Distribution and status

Found in northern South Australia from Port August growing on heavy soils in wet depressions, floodplains and watercourses. Also found in Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales. Native. Common in South Australia. Common in the other States.
Herbarium regions: North Western, Lake Eyre, Gairdner-Torrens, Flinders Ranges, Eyre Peninsula
NRM regions: Alinytjara Wilurara, Eyre Peninsula, Northern and Yorke, South Australian Arid Lands
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Prostrate, annual perhaps biennial or a short-lived perennial herb with several radiating, finally ascending herbaceous aromatic stems, 10-50cm long; pubescent with strigose brown and white hairs. Leaves long-petiolate, to 7 cm long, with 3 petiolate rhomboid-ovate or rhomboid-lanceolate leaflets, the median one on a 5-7 mm long petiole, the largest to 4 cm long and 1.5 cm wide; irregularly denticulate, with black dots; glabrescent above, underneath with white appressed strigulose hairs, mostly confined to the veins. Flower-spike to 6 cm long with white pea-flowers with purple-dotted keel. Flowering between August and september. Fruits are black elliptical pod to 3 mm long, hairy, dotted all over with wart-like glands, one seed. Seeds are brown bean-shaped seed to 3 mm long and 2 mm wide, covered with round warty projections and short hairs. Seed embryo type is bent.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between August and December. Collect maturing pods, those that are fat, turning black and contain a brown seed inside, by running your hands along the fruit-spikes. Place the pods in a tray and leave to dry for 1 to 2 weeks or until the pods begin to split. Then rub the dried pods to dislodge the seeds. Use a sieve to separate any 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. From one collection, the seed viability was high, at 95%. This species has physical dormancy that needs to be overcome for the seed to germinate (e.g. nicking or softening the seed coat).

Seeds stored:
  Hide
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
Number
of plants
Date
collected
Collection number
Collection location
Date
stored
% ViabilityStorage
temperature
BGA 
MSB
2,300 (9 g)
2,300 (9 g)
26-Aug-2008TST417
Lake Eyre
20-Jul-200995%-18°C
BGA1,500 (3.89 g)30+3-Nov-2010MJT333
Lake Eyre
1-Jan-2012100%-18°C
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.