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Genus Pimelea Family Thymelaeaceae

Description: Herbs, shrubs or small trees, often with very tough bark.

Leaves mostly opposite or subopposite, usually paler on lower surface; petiole commonly very short.

Inflorescence mostly a terminal raceme, sometimes on short lateral branches, spike-like, often condensed into heads or clusters, with or without bracts forming an involucre. Flowers mostly bisexual, sometimes unisexual; pedicel usually short. Hypanthium tubular with 4 usually spreading sepal lobes. Petals absent. Stamens 2, inserted in the hypanthium and mostly exceeding it. Ovary with 2 carpels, but only 1 functional with a solitary ovule; style lateral.

Fruit mostly a 1-seeded nut or rarely drupaceous; fruit usually ± narrow-ovoid, frequently glabrous except for a few hairs at the apex, mostly green or brown at maturity, sometimes red, rarely black.


Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 108 species, Australia, New Zealand. Australia: c. 90 species (endemic), all States.

Some species are known to be toxic to stock, and others are suspected of being so. Known toxic species include P. curviflora, P. flava, P. glauca, P. linifolia, P. microcephala, P. neo-anglica, P. pauciflora, P. simplex and P. trichostachya. P. petrophila F. Muell. has been recorded in the Barrier Range (NFWP). This species is very similar to P. flava but differs in the narrower bracts and the pitted (not furrowed) seeds. Key based on Threlfall (1983).

Text by G. J. Harden
Taxon concept:

Taxa not yet included in identification key
Pimelea altior,    Pimelea congesta,    Pimelea cremnophila,    Pimelea gigandra

 Key to the species 
1Stems glabrous; leaves usually glabrous, rarely hairy when very young2
Stems hairy although sometimes glabrescent with age; leaves mostly hairy, sometimes glabrous18
2Flowers unisexual, plants dioecious; female hypanthia continued only shortly, if at all, above the ovary; hypanthia persistent or tardily circumsciss above or around the ovary after flowering3
Flowers bisexual or in some species flowers occasionally female by abortion; hypanthia continued well above the ovary; tube circumsciss above the ovary after flowering
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7
3Inflorescence axillaryPimelea axiflora
Inflorescence terminal, sometimes borne on short lateral branches and appearing axillary
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4
4Inflorescence entirely glabrousPimelea pauciflora
Inflorescence more or less hairy; hypanthia sometimes glabrous and then at least the pedicels hairy
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5
5Pedicels covered with long coarse hairs; sepals and hypanthia entirely glabrousPimelea serpyllifolia
Pedicels covered, sometimes sparsely so, with short fine hairs; sepals and hypanthia glabrous on inner surface but usually bearing at least a few hairs on outer surface
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6
6Hypanthia and sepals glabrous or sparsely hairy on outer surface; heads with 4–24 male flowers, or with 3–7, rarely to 16, female flowersPimelea neo-anglica
Hypanthia and sepals with fine curly hairs on outer surface, sometimes hairs absent from tube or sepals but not both; heads with 13–100 male flowers or 7–12 female flowers
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Pimelea microcephala
7Flowers in racemes, compact when young, elongated and interrupted at maturity, bracts absentPimelea spicata
Flowers in bracteate heads, in Pimelea ligustrina and P. treyvaudii the receptacle often elongates in the fruiting condition but not before the upper part of the hypanthia falls off
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8
8Bracts completely surrounding and more or less enclosing the inflorescence, more or less broad-ovate and longer than the leaves9
Bracts not completely enclosing the inflorescence, usually narrower, not broad-ovate and mostly shorter than leaves
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10
9Bracts 6–8, glabrousPimelea bracteata
Bracts 4, more or less hairy on inner surface, margins of inner bracts ciliate
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Pimelea glauca
10Bracts green with cream markings at the base and along midvein, 9–11 in numberPimelea treyvaudii
Bracts green or with reddish markings, 4 or 8, or sometimes variable in number
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11
11Inner bracts ciliate on the margins12
Bracts not ciliate on the margins
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15
12Bracts 9–13Pimelea ciliolaris
Bracts 4 or 8
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13
13Persistent base of hypanthia glabrousPimelea glauca
Persistent base of hypanthia hairy
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14
14Leaves 7–20 mm widePimelea ligustrina
Leaves 1–4 mm wide
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Pimelea stricta
15Leaves crowded and confined to the end of branches; flowers usually pinkish red, rarely whitePimelea alpina
Leaves neither crowded nor confined to the end of branches; flowers usually white or cream, rarely pink
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16
16Leaves mostly more than 7 mm wide with major reticulate veins as well as primary and secondary veins distinct on lower surfacePimelea ligustrina
Leaves usually less than 5 mm wide (sometimes to 7 mm, with only the primary vein and rarely intramarginal veins distinct on lower surface
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17
17Anther loculi on a broad dorsal connective and parallel on the inner face, not back-to-back when dehisced; leaves 1–4 mm widePimelea stricta
Anther loculi on a narrow connective and back-to-back when dehisced; leaves 1–7 mm wide
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Pimelea linifolia
18Inflorescence axillaryPimelea axiflora
Inflorescence terminal, sometimes borne on short lateral branches and appearing axillary
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19
19Inflorescence a raceme, usually narrow, compact when young and elongating at maturity; involucral bracts absent, apparently present in bud owing to the closeness of stem leaves20
Inflorescence not raceme-like and usually not markedly elongating in fruit; involucral bracts present or absent
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24
20Inflorescence remaining compact, less than 20 mm long at maturity, dense; anther connective narrow or broad, if broad then loculi parallel on the inner face21
Inflorescence elongating to more than 20 mm at maturity, interrupted; anther connective narrow and loculi back-to-back when dehisced
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23
21Leaves less than 20 mm long and mostly less than 5 mm wide (sometimes to 8 mm wide)22
Leaves mostly more than 20 mm long and more than 8 mm wide
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Pimelea latifolia
22Flowers greenish to white, densely covered with white spreading hairs; inflorescence terminal; peduncle and rachis densely whitish pubescentPimelea simplex
Flowers yellow tinged with red, covered with glistening more or less appressed hairs; inflorescence lateral; pedicels and young growth fawnish pubescent
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Pimelea strigosa
23Flowers densely covered with short appressed hairsPimelea elongata
Flowers densely covered with long spreading hairs
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Pimelea trichostachya
24Flowers in bracteate heads more than 15 mm diam.; flowers more than 10 mm long, white to creamy, at least 12 in each head, often more than 40; involucral bracts at least 425
Flowers solitary or in few- to many-flowered heads or clusters, but not forming large bracteate heads more than 15 mm diam.; flowers less than 10 mm long, white to yellow-green or reddish; bracts present or absent
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28
25Leaves mostly less than 15 mm long and less than 8 mm wide, glabrous or hairy; hairs velvety or long and white, widespread on stems, leaves and peduncles26
Leaves mostly more than 15 mm long and more than 8 mm wide, glabrous except when very young; hairs short and fine, usually restricted to the peduncle except for a few scattered hairs for 1 or 2 nodes below inflorescence
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Pimelea ligustrina
26Bracts 6–13; leaves hairy, sometimes glabrescent with age27
Bracts 4; leaves glabrous
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Pimelea humilis
27Leaves silvery, silky on both surfaces; flowers unisexual and plants dioeciousPimelea penicillaris
Leaves green, usually with long white hairs at least on the lower surface but neither silvery nor silky, or more or less glabrous; flowers bisexual
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Pimelea ciliolaris
28Prostrate, mat-forming shrub; leaves opposite; flowers always 2 in each headPimelea biflora
Erect plants, usually shrubs to at least 50 cm high, or occasionally erect herbs; leaves alternate to subopposite; flowers more than 2 in each head or if 2 then not consistently so, or flowers solitary
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29
29Leaves less than twice as long as wide, often crowded and covering the stem, leaves glabrous; flowers unisexual, plants dioeciousPimelea flava
Leaves not as above, usually more than twice as long as wide, scattered along stem, not completely covering it; leaves usually hairy or rarely more or less glabrous; flowers bisexual or female
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30
30Peduncles more than 10 mm long31
Peduncles less than 10 mm long
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32
31Leaves usually 10–20 mm long and 3–8 mm wide; flowers yellow sometimes tinged with redPimelea strigosa
Leaves mostly 20–60 mm long, 8–20 mm wide; flowers white
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Pimelea latifolia
32Leaves and stems densely hairy, with creamy soft spreading hairs, 2–4 mm long; primary and secondary veins prominent and brownPimelea venosa
Leaves and stems not usually covered with whitish spreading hairs more than 2 mm long, if leaves densely covered with spreading hairs then veins not brown and prominent
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33
33Flowers solitary or in clusters of 2–5 in the axils of the leaves and usually accompanied by new vegetative growth; bracts absentPimelea umbratica
Flowers in few- to many-flowered terminal heads, often appearing lateral due to the outgrowth of axillary buds immediately below the inflorescence; bracts present or absent
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34
34Flowers and fruits covered with white spreading hairs; plant herbaceous, sometimes woody at base, 15–75 cm high. Specimens of Pimelea trichostachya (sp. no. 16) bearing only young inflorescences may also key out herePimelea simplex
Flowers and fruits not covered with white spreading hairs; plants often shrubby, rarely herbaceous
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35
35Leaves either mostly more than 2.5 mm wide and bearing short tangled spreading hairs or rarely long antrorse hairs on both surfaces, or more than 60 mm long and bearing small round projections on the upper surface (leaves 5–80 mm long)Pimelea latifolia
Leaves either less than 2.5 mm wide and hairy on both surfaces, or glabrous or almost so on the upper surface and the lower surface bearing hairs that are appressed to spreading and then short and fine and slightly tangled (leaves 2–20 mm long)
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36
36Flowers 5–12 mm long; bracts when present usually glabrous or nearly so on the upper surface, shorter than the inflorescencePimelea curviflora
Flowers 3–4 mm long; bracts when present hairy on both surfaces, at least as long as inflorescence
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Pimelea micrantha

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