Plants of
South Australia
Cheiranthera volubilis
Twining finger-flowers,
Twining Hand-flower,
Twining Finger-flower
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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 painting: 1

Common names

Twining finger-flowers

Twining Hand-flower

Twining Finger-flower


Cheiranthera from the Greek 'cheir' meaning hand and 'anthera' meaning anther, referring to the five anthers resembling fingers. Volubilis from Latin meaning to turn, revolve or twine; alluding to the species habit of growing and twining through bushes and trees.

Distribution and status

Endemic to South Australia and found only on Kangaroo Island, growing in heath on ironstone soils. Native. Very rare in South Australia.
Herbarium region: Kangaroo Island
NRM region: Kangaroo Island
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

A weak twining perennial shrub with long linear leaves and large blue flowers at the top of the stems. The yellow anthers are arranged like fingers of the hand. Flowering between October and March. Fruits are brown ovoid capsules with numerous seeds inside. Seeds are small, shiny, red-brown reniform seeds to 3 mm long and 2 mm wide, with a slight wrinkled surface.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between January and March. Collect capsules as they start to dry and turn brown. Capsules may be collected green if the seeds are hard and brown-red. To increase the chances of collecting sufficient viable seeds, it is recommended that a small bag (ie. Organza bags) be used to enclose the developing capsules. Place the capsules in a tray and cover with paper to prevent the seeds popping out. Leave to dry for one week. Then carefully rub the dried capsules by hand to prevent damaging the seeds as the seedcoat is thin. Use a sieve to remove 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. Seed viability is high for this species but fruits can have high predation. This species is generally difficult to germinate, it has morphophysiological dormancy and complex germination requirements.

Fire response

Majority of plants observed at two assessment sites were re-sprouting with a small percentage of seedlings observed.

Longevity: <10-15 years

Time to flowering: >3 years for seedlings, 1-2 years for re-sprouting plants.

Recovery work

In 2020-2021 this species was assessed post-fire in 1 year old fire scars. A total of 200 seeds have been collected & banked for a population inside the 2020 fire scar. Further populations will be assessed and seeds collected on Kangaroo Island in 2021–2022. Germination screening testing the response to fire cues will be undertaken in 2021.This project work was undertaken with funding support from Greening Australia's Project Phoenix. Plants are being propagated from germination testing for establishment in a Seed Production Area on Kangaroo Island in 2021-2022.

Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage
BGA1,500 (2.26 g)337-Jan-2004PJA80
Kangaroo Island
1-Sep-2004100%+5°C, -18°C
BGA44 (0.11 g)19-Jan-2006A. Quarmby
Kangaroo Island
1-Aug-2007 -18°C

440 (0.9 g)
Kangaroo Island
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: