Plants of
South Australia
Tribulus eichlerianus
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
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Coober Pedy
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock paintings: 2.


Tribulus from the Greek 'tribolos' meaning water-chestnut and translated into Latin as 'tribulos' which originally meant the caltrop, a 4-pointed military instrument, employed to lame advancing cavalry, and the name also applied to Tribulus terrestris. Eichlerianus named after Hansjoerg Eichler (1916-1992), a German born botanist who took up the position of first Keeper of the State Herbarium of South Australia in 1955, and in 1973 was appointed as Curator of Herbarium Australiense, Australian Capital Territory, where he remained until his retirement in 1981.

Distribution and status

Found across the northern part of South Australia, growing on red sandy soil. Also found in Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales. Native. Common in South Australia. Uncommon in Western Australia. Common in the other states.
Herbarium regions: North Western, Lake Eyre, Gairdner-Torrens, Flinders Ranges, Eastern
NRM regions: Alinytjara Wilurara, South Australian Arid Lands
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Prostrate or ascending herb with hairy branches to 1 m long. Leaves with 6 to 9 pairs of leaflets, leaflets oblong, to 15 mm long and 6 mm wide. Flowers yellow with 5 petals to 9 mm long and sepals to 7 mm long. Flowering between February and September. Fruits are hairy woody ball to 8 mm long with numerous spines, breaking into 4 segments. Seeds are contain in each woody fruit segment. Seed embryo type is spatulate fully developed.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between April and November. Collect fruits that are hard and turning brown. Some fruits maybe split and laying on the ground. Be careful when collecting as the fruits are spiny. No further cleaning is required if only fruits are collected. 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 usually high. This species have physical and physiological dormancies that needs to be overcome for the seed to germinate.