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Genus Ptilotus Family Amaranthaceae

Description: Perennial, rarely annual, herbs or shrubs, frequently with a woody rootstock.

Leaves radical and/or cauline and alternate, petiolate or sessile.

Inflorescences spicate, globose, ovoid, ± cylindrical or rarely interrupted, mostly terminal, occasionally also axillary, axis woolly. Bracts persistent, scarious, glabrous or variously hairy, the midvein frequently excurrent. Perianth segments 5, fused for a short distance from the base, variously hairy. Stamens 5, frequently 1–3 reduced to staminodes; filaments usually slightly shorter than perianth segments, usually fused at the base into a membranous cup, occasionally with small teeth alternating with the filaments. Ovary sessile or shortly stipitate; ovule 1, pendulous.

Fruit an indehiscent utricle.


Photo © ANBG

Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 90 species, Australia & Malesia. Australia: 90 species, all States (mostly endemic in drier regions of mainland Australia, 1 species extending into Tas. & 1 species into Malesia).

Text by S. W. L. Jacobs & L. Lapinpuro
Taxon concept:

Taxa not yet included in identification key
Ptilotus leucocoma

 Key to the species 
1Inflorescence cylindrical2
Inflorescence globose or ovoid11
2Leaves (and stems) hairy, especially when young3
Leaves glabrous, stems mostly glabrous
                       Back to 1
6
3Inflorescences less than 5 cm long4
Inflorescences, or at least some of them, more than 5 cm long
                       Back to 2
5
4Leaves oblanceolate, 1.5–2.5 cm long, 3–4 mm wide; hairs simplePtilotus indivisus
Leaves obovate, 1–4 cm long, 5–20 mm wide; hairs stellate and simple
                       Back to 3
Ptilotus obovatus
5Inflorescence more than 2 cm diam., densePtilotus polystachyus
Inflorescence less than 2 cm diam., interrupted
                       Back to 3
Ptilotus extenuatus
6Inflorescence more than 3 cm diam7
Inflorescence less than 2.5 cm diam
                       Back to 2
9
7Leaves narrow-linear, c. 3 mm widePtilotus macrocephalus
Leaves obovate or oblong-lanceolate, more than 20 mm wide
                       Back to 6
8
8Inflorescence yellow-green; leaves mucronate or entirePtilotus nobilis
Inflorescence pink-purplish; leaves acute
                       Back to 7
Ptilotus exaltatus
9Leaves spathulate, ovate-cuneate or lanceolatePtilotus spathulatus
Cauline leaves linear or linear-lanceolate
                       Back to 6
10
10Inflorescence yellow-green; perianth segments 6–12 mm long, acutePtilotus gaudichaudii
Inflorescence mauve or pinkish; perianth segments less than 6 mm long, obtuse
                       Back to 9
Ptilotus leucocomus
11Leaves (and stems) hairy, especially when young12
Leaves glabrous, stems mostly glabrous
                       Back to 1
16
12Simple and either stellate or dendritic hairs present on leaf13
All hairs simple
                       Back to 11
14
13Perianth segments 6–10 mm long, inner surface glabrousPtilotus obovatus
Perianth segments 11–13 mm long, inner surface woolly at the base, with scattered hairs above
                       Back to 12
Ptilotus sessilifolius
14Leaves obovatePtilotus latifolius
Leaves broad-lanceolate or linear
                       Back to 12
15
15Basal leaves broad-lanceolate, `petioles' wingedPtilotus seminudus
Leaves linear to broad-linear, petioles not winged
                       Back to 14
Ptilotus erubescens
16Leaves less than 10 mm longPtilotus remotiflorus
Leaves more than 10 mm long
                       Back to 11
17
17Perianth segments more than 12 mm long18
Perianth segments less than 12 mm long
                       Back to 16
20
18Leaves broad-lanceolatePtilotus seminudus
Leaves linear or linear-lanceolate
                       Back to 17
19
19Margins of cauline leaves undulatePtilotus semilanatus
Margins of cauline leaves flat and entire
                       Back to 18
Ptilotus erubescens
20Perianth segments acute, 6–12 mm long; inflorescence greenish yellowPtilotus gaudichaudii
Perianth segments obtuse, 6 mm or less long; inflorescence mauve or pinkish
                       Back to 17
Ptilotus leucocomus

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