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Genus Astelia Family Asteliaceae

Description: Tufted dioecious herbs, perennial, rhizomatous; aerial parts usually covered with silvery scales, sometimes woolly.

Leaves 3-ranked, linear to lanceolate, keeled; sheath closed at base.

Inflorescence a terminal panicle; branches subtended by leafy or membranous spathes; bracts membranous. Flowers unisexual, actinomorphic. Tepals 6, free or basally fused. Stamens 6, shorter than tepals; anthers dehiscing by longitudinal slits, introrse; staminodes sometimes present in female flowers. Ovary superior, 1-locular with parietal placentas or 3-locular with axile placentas; stigmas 3; reduced ovary sometimes present in male flowers.

Fruit a berry surrounded by persistent tepals; seeds few–numerous, black.


Photo © ANBG

Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 25 species, in and around the Pacific, with 1 species in Reunion and Mauritius and 1 species in the Falkland Is. Australia: 3 species (endemic), N.S.W., Vic., Tas.

This genus has often been included in the Liliaceae s. lat.

Text by G. J. Harden
Taxon concept:

 Key to the species 
1Male panicles compact, mostly hidden by leaves; anthers more than 1 mm long; berry orange-yellow, 3-locular, 3-lobed; old leaf bases tomentose with short hairsAstelia psychrocharis
Male panicles open, exserted; anthers less than 1 mm long; berry red, 1-locular, not lobed; old leaf bases silky with hair-like scalesAstelia alpina

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