Plants of
South Australia
Dendrophyllanthus lacunellus
Sandhill Spurge
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
Least concern
Near threatened
Critically endangered
Data deficient
Coober Pedy
Mount Gambier
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock paintings: 6

Prior names

Phyllanthus lacunellus

Phyllanthus lacunarius var. deuterocalyx, partly

Common names

Sandhill Spurge


Phyllanthus from the Greek 'phyllon' meaning a leaf and 'anthos' meaning a flower; referring to some foreign species where the flowers grow on the edges of dilated leaf-like branchlets. Lacunellus from Latin meaning growing near lake, pond or dykes; referring to the species habitat in sandy rises and edge of lakes.

Distribution and status

Found in the north and north-eastern parts of South Australia, growing on sand dunes and sand plains. Also found in the Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. Native. Uncommon in South Australia. Rare in Victoria. Uncommon in the other states.
Herbarium regions: Lake Eyre, Gairdner-Torrens, Flinders Ranges, Eastern, Eyre Peninsula, Murray
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Prostrate to erect perennial herb to 30 cm high, glabrous, woody at base with a central rootstock. Leaves alternating up the stems, obovate to cuneate, to 12 mm long and 5 mm wide, flat, glabrous, tips blunt. Male and female inflorescence on the same plant with small (less than 3 mm across) flowers in clusters of 1 female and 2 or 3 males at the bases of the leaves. This species is similar to Phyllanthus lacunarius which is an annual without a woody base, growing in clay soils, the fruiting bodies are 3-4 mm in diameter and the seed has a striated texture. Flowers throughout the year. Fruits are green depressed globular capsule to 2 mm long and 3 mm wide, glabrous, with three lobes. Seeds are brown sectoroid seed to 1.3 mm long and 1 mm wide, with a wrinkled surface. Seed embryo type is spatulate fully developed.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between January and December. Collect individual mature capsules, those that are drying off, fat and contain dark hard seeds or break off stems to allow capsules to continue to mature. Green capsules can be collected if the seeds are dark and hard. Place the capsules in a tray and leave to dry for one to two weeks. Then gently rub the capsules with a rubber bung to dislodge the seeds. Use a sieves 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.