Description: Perennial herbs, mostly evergreen; rhizome woody, rarely corm-like.
Leaves basal or cauline, equitant, usually linear or sword-shaped. Scapes erect, terete, unbranched, but often clasped at base by innermost leaf; inflorescence capitate, enclosed by a pair of large, rigid spathe bracts enclosing 2 groups of 1–6 sessile flowers.
Flowers actinomorphic; fragile, short-lived, opening in succession on sunny days. Perianth tube filiform; outer tepals broad, spreading; inner tepals very small, erect. Stamens exserted from perianth tube; filaments ± fused. Style filiform, entire; stigma 3-lobed or almost fully fused.
Capsule cylindrical, trigonous, sessile; seeds numerous.
Distribution and occurrence: World: 19 species, Australia & Malesia, New Caledonia. Australia: 17 species (endemic), Qld, Vic., Tas., S.A.
Text by T. A. James & E. A. Brown (1993); edited KL Wilson (May 2016)
| ||Key to the species|| |
|1||Plants glabrous; spathe bracts green to brown forming involucre 5–9 mm wide; seeds ovoid, black, to 2.5 mm long||Patersonia fragilis|
|Plants more or less hairy (particularly on margins of leaves near base and on stem); spathe bracts brown to black forming involucre mostly more than 9 mm wide; seeds ovoid-cylindrical to cylindrical, brown, sometimes with a waxy bloom, mostly more than 2.5 cm long||2|
|2||Leaves cauline on erect slender stems; scapes glabrous; spathe bracts dark brown with translucent margins 2–3 mm wide; seeds arillate||Patersonia glabrata|
|Leaves all basal; scapes pubescent, at least in upper part; spathe bracts dark brown to blackish with scarious margins 1–2 mm wide; seeds without an aril|
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|3||Leaves 1.5–6 mm wide, deeply grooved, margins if hairy then not ciliate with inflexed hairs||Patersonia sericea|
|Leaves 1–2 mm wide, mostly smooth, ciliate with inflexed hairs|
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