Plants of
South Australia
Cullen microcephalum
Leguminosae
Dusky Scurf-pea
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
Least concern
Near threatened
Rare
Vulnerable
Endangered
Critically endangered
Extinct
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: 3.

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 . Microcephalum from the Greek 'mikros' meaning small and 'cephalum' meaning head, referring to the species small flower-heads.

Distribution and status

Known only from one location near Mount Gambier in South Australia growing in moist shady grassy woodland. Also found in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. Native. Very rare in South Australia. Rare in Tasmania. Uncommon in Victoria and New South Wales.
Herbarium region: South Eastern
NRM region: South East
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Trailing or ascending perennial herb with stems to 80 cm long, glabrous or with sparse appressed dark hairs, gland-dotted. Leaves to 15 cm long, palmately 3-foliate; leaflets lanceolate to ovate-oblong to 7 cm long and 20 mm wide; apex acute, margins entire; upper surface dotted with dark glands. Flower-spike clustered at tip with mauve-purple, pink or white pea-flowers. Pods c. 3 mm long, glabrous, wrinkled, black. Flowering between November to April. Fruits are black ovoid pod to 3 mm long, with one seed inside. Seeds are black globular seed to 3 mm long and 2 mm wide, with a deep wrinkled surface. Seed embryo type is bent.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between January and April. 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 two collections, the seed viability was high, at 100%. 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:
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LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
Number
of plants
Date
collected
Collection number
Collection location
Date
stored
% ViabilityStorage
temperature
BGA 
MSB
590 (2.46 g)
1,100 (4.62 g)
8010-Jan-2007TJH3
South Eastern
1-Aug-2007100%-18°C
BGA4,400 (21.61 g)50+8-Jan-2008TJH3
South Eastern
19-Sep-2008100%-18°C
BGA5,400 (22.38 g)200+15-Jan-2013DJD2623
South Eastern
27-Feb-201472%-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.
Germination table:
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