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