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Genus Carthamus Family Asteraceae

Description: Spiny annual herbs, rarely perennial and woody at the base; stems not winged; vestiture of septate, cobwebby and short glandular hairs.

Leaves basal and cauline, alternate, spiny, margins toothed to pinnatisect, rigid.

Heads solitary, sessile, terminal, campanulate; involucral bracts rigid, herbaceous, spine-tipped, several-seriate, the outer bracts leaf-like; receptacle flat, densely hairy. Florets all tubular, bisexual, fertile; corolla narrow and convoluted below, abruptly broadened and 5-lobed above. Anthers sagittate at base, apex rounded; filaments bearded. Style branches linear, erect, appressed.

Achenes ovoid-oblong to obpyramidal, outer wrinkled, inner smooth, glabrous; pappus several rows of narrow ciliate scales (outer shorter) or absent, absent from outer achenes.


Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 20 species, Mediterranean region & Asia. Australia: 4 species (naturalized), all States.

Text by L. Murray
Taxon concept:

 Key to the species 
1Leaves and bracts deeply toothed to pinnatisect, lanceolate, 3–6 cm long, with spines on lobes2
Leaves and bracts entire, ovate lanceolate, with spines on margins, leaves 2–12 cm long, bracts smaller. Flowers bright orangeCarthamus tinctorius
2Flowers purple; stem with dense glandular hairsCarthamus dentatus
Flowers yellow to cream; stem usually sparsely glandular hairy
                       Back to 1
Carthamus lanatus

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