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Genus Bossiaea Family Fabaceae
Subfamily Faboideae

Description: Shrubs; stems and branches modified into terete or flat cladodes.

Leaves alternate or opposite, often scale-like, or simple or 1-foliolate; ± shortly petiolate; stipules usually small.

Flowers axillary, solitary or a few together; each flower subtended by a series of bracts and a pair of bracteoles, usually on the pedicel. Calyx 5-toothed, upper 2 teeth usually broader and united higher than lower 3. Petals clawed, mostly orange to yellow, often with some dark red to purplish brown markings; standard ± circular or reniform, about twice as long as calyx; wings narrow; keel broader than wings and shorter or longer than standard. Stamens monodelphous, sheath split on upper side; anthers uniform, dorsifixed, versatile. Ovary stipitate or ± sessile; 1- to many-ovuled.

Pod ± compressed; seeds with a hooded cap-like aril.


Photo © ANBG

Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 50 species, endemic Australia. Australia: all States except N.T.

Text by T. A. James
Taxon concept:

Taxa not yet included in identification key
Bossiaea bombayensis,    Bossiaea concolor,    Bossiaea cordifolia,    Bossiaea fragrans,    Bossiaea grayi,    Bossiaea milesiae,    Bossiaea nummularia,    Bossiaea sericea

 Key to the species 
1Plants leafless (scale leaves or leaves sometimes present on juvenile growth); branches flat and distinctly winged (i.e. cladodes),2
Leaves present; branches terete or sometimes flat but never broadly winged.6
2Flowers red, >15 mm long; keel longer than standard; ovules c. 20; inland species, west from Nyngan district.Bossiaea walkeri
Flowers mostly yellow or orange, often with reddish markings, <15 mm long; keel usually shorter than standard; ovules 4–10; species of the coast and ranges.
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3
3Cladodes 2–4 mm wide; pods usually 1–2 cm long; seeds 2–4.Bossiaea riparia
Cladodes usually 4–15 mm wide; pods 2.5–5 cm long; seeds usually 6–10.
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4
4Bracteoles caducous; erect shrub to 2.5 m high.Bossiaea bracteosa
Bracteoles persistent; erect or decumbent shrubs 1–1.5 m high.
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5
5Flowers mostly 6–10 mm long; bracteoles inserted at or below middle of pedicel, tips not reaching to receptacle; ultimate branches of cladodes mostly 2–4 mm wide.Bossiaea ensata
Flowers mostly 10–14 mm long; bracteoles inserted at or above middle of pedicel, tips reaching to receptacle; ultimate branches of cladodes mostly 4–6 mm wide.
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Bossiaea scolopendria
6Leaves opposite or if alternate then triangular with long fine points; ovary stipitate.7
Leaves alternate (but not triangular with long, fine points); ovary sessile or stipitate.
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9
7Leaves with lamina ± circular; stems glabrous, often reddish or yellowish.Bossiaea lenticularis
Leaves with lamina not circular; stems pubescent with appressed or spreading hairs, usually green to brown.
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8
8Young stems ± flat, hoary or sparsely pubescent with short, appressed hairs; leaves narrow-elliptic to narrow-ovate, upper surface smooth; flowers on pedicles ≤5 mm long.Bossiaea kiamensis
Young stems terete, usually with a ± dense pubescence of longer, spreading hairs; leaves triangular to ovate or lanceolate, upper surface ± scabrid; flowers on pedicels 5–20 mm long.
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Bossiaea cinerea
9Stipules conspicuous, 5–10 mm long; leaves usually 10–20 mm long, apex ± pungent-pointed with a recurved apex.Bossiaea stephensonii
Stipules small and mostly inconspicuous, 1–3 mm long; leaves 2–35 mm long, not pungent-pointed.
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10
10Branches spinescent.Bossiaea obcordata
Branches not spinescent.
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11
11Keel much longer than standard, c. 20 mm long; leaves 10–35 mm long; pods 3–5 cm long; seeds mostly 5–8; erect shrub with terete branches; confined to far north coast near the Qld border (NC).Bossiaea rupicola
Keel ± equal with standard, ≤10 mm long; leaves mostly <10 mm long or if longer than either plants prostrate or branchlets of young growth flattened; widespread, not confined to the far north coast.
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12
12Ovary and pods pubescent; stems pubescent.13
Ovary glabrous or some hairs present on apex and margins; mature pods glabrous or margins ciliate; stems ± glabrous, glabrescent or pubescent.
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14
13Most leaves about as long as broad, 1–3.5 mm long and 1–3 mm wide; pods 5–10 mm long and usually with 2 or 3 seeds; south from the Orange district (CT, ST).Bossiaea foliosa
Most leaves longer than broad, 5–10 mm long and 2–7 mm wide; pods 10–30 mm long and with 5–8 seeds; north from Rylstone district (NC, NT, NWS, CWS).
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Bossiaea scortechinii
14Pedicels 6–20 mm long, longer than calyx.15
Pedicels 2–5 mm long, shorter than calyx.
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16
15Leaves with petiole 2–5 mm long, lamina 3–15 mm long; leaves ± distant; pedicels 10–20 mm long.Bossiaea prostrata
Leaves with petiole c. 1 mm long, lamina 2–5 mm long, ± closely spaced; pedicels 6–10 mm long.
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Bossiaea buxifolia
16At least young stems hairy, lower surface of leaves hairy; stems terete.17
Stems ± glabrous, lower surface of leaves glabrous; young stems distinctly flattened.
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18
17Erect shrubs 1–2 m high; ovary and pods glabrous; pods 1–1.7 mm long, usually with 1–3 seeds; near lake Burragorang and Nerriga area (CC, ST).Bossiaea oligosperma
Prostrate or decumbent shrub; ovary and pods ± ciliate; pods 2–2.5 mm long, mostly with 5–8 seeds; north from Sutton Forest district (NC, CC, NT, CT).
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Bossiaea neoanglica
18Leaves mostly rhombic to obovate, ± similar on the one plant, mostly 3–10 mm long; seeds usually 2–4.Bossiaea rhombifolia
Leaves ovate to almost linear, of variable shape on the one plant, mostly 10–30 mm long; seeds mostly 6–8.
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Bossiaea heterophylla

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