Plants of
South Australia
Exocarpos aphyllus
Santalaceae
Leafless Ballart
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
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Rare
Vulnerable
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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: 9.

Etymology

Exocarpos from the Greek 'exo' meaning outside and 'caryon' meaning nut, referring to the succulent pedicel resembles a pericarp below the nut. Aphyllus from the Greek 'a', meaning without and 'phyllon' meaning a leaf; alluding to the appearance of the species not to have any leaves.

Distribution and status

Found across central South Australia growing in mallee scrub and woodlands, on sandy, loamy or calcareous soils . Also found in Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. Native. Common in South Australia. Common in the other States.
Herbarium regions: Lake Eyre, Nullarbor, Gairdner-Torrens, Flinders Ranges, Eastern, Eyre Peninsula, Northern Lofty, Murray, Yorke Peninsula, Southern Lofty, Kangaroo Island
NRM regions: Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Alinytjara Wilurara, Eyre Peninsula, Kangaroo Island, Northern and Yorke, South Australian Arid Lands, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Much-branched shrub or small tree to 3.5 m high. Branches stout, rigid, more or less spreading; cylindrical or flat-ribbed and stellate-hairy when young. Leaves reduced to ovate caducous scales less than 1 mm long. Inflorescence in short dense sessile spikes or clusters, 2-4 mm long with tiny yellow-green flowers. Flowering between August and December. Fruits are fruit consists of two parts, fleshy, cream turning red pedical (top part) and black ovoid to globular nut (bottom part). Seeds are woody brown globular seed with a fleshy orange aril at tone end. Seed embryo type is linear underdeveloped.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between October and January. Collect maturing fruits, the top aril is large, succulent, orange to red and bottom bit is hard and black. Leave fruits to dry and harden before storing. Fleshy aril can be removed but it can be stored with the seed. 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. Predation of seeds can be high, however, seed viability is also high. From one collection, the seed viability was high, at 100%. This species is generally difficult to germinate, it has morphophysiological dormancy and complex germination requirements.

Seeds stored:
  Hide
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
Number
of plants
Date
collected
Collection number
Collection location
Date
stored
% ViabilityStorage
temperature
BGA 
MSB
1,500 (60 g)
1,500 (60 g)
1229-Oct-2004MOL4686
Gairdner-Torrens
28-Mar-2006100%-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.