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Genus Cassinia Family Asteraceae

Description: Perennial shrubs 0.5–2 m high, sometimes up to 8 m, often viscid and/or aromatic.

Leaves simple, exstipulate, entire, mostly linear, non-decurrent, usually with strongly revolute margins and a reflexed mucro at tip.

Inflorescence cymose, paniculate or pseudo-spicate. Flowerheads with involucral bracts, oblong to lanceolate or ovate, hyaline to opaque, usually white, sometimes yellow or ochre, rarely red-brown; receptacle scales (paleae) present; florets all bisexual, corolla white to cream to yellow, rarely red; anthers shortly tailed with an appendage; style branches with papillose apices.

Achenes more or less cylindrical, sometimes longitudinally angled or ribbed, contracted abruptly at the apex and base, lacking a neck; pappus a single ring of short barbellate bristles, shed as a ring.


Distribution and occurrence: World: 40-45 species, confined to south-eastern Australia from Eyre Peninsula in South Australia through much of Victoria and Tasmania, and central to eastern New South Wales and extending into south-east Queensland. Rare C. arcuata in Western Australia.

Most species are multistemmed erect shrubs of 1-2 m high, frequently found in the understorey of dry sclerophyll woodland where they may be locally frequent or dominant.

Cassinia furtiva is not represented in the key as there is only one collection: 10 km NW of Warialda NWS. It has sticky resinous exudate on both surfaces. It is close to the species Cassinia acciptrum. Cassinia tenuifolia is not represented in the key as it is the only species of Cassinia growing on Lord Howe Island. Cassinia arcuata probably does not occur in NSW although there is a specimen from the Murray River collected by Ferdinand Mueller with no further information. What we thought was Cassinia arcuata is Cassinia sifton, the Sifton Bush or Chinese shrub.

Text by Louisa Murray
Taxon concept: Orchard, A.E. (2004) A revision of Cassinia (Asteraceae: Gnaphalieae) in Australia. 1. Introduction and generic and infrageneric considerations. Australian Systematic Botany 17: 469-481

Taxa not yet included in identification key
Cassinia furtiva,    Cassinia tenuifolia

 Key to the species 
1Flower heads arranged in compound dichasia; inflorescence umbrella shaped, flat topped or slightly domed (broader than high)2
Flower heads arranged alternately (more or less) along inflorescence axes: inflorescence sub-conical or pseudo spectate (height approximately equalling width or taller than wide)24
2Achenes grey to silvery white, not or scarcely constricted at apex, irregularly 4- or 5-ridged longitudinally, glabrous or with subsessile globular hairs3
Achenes brown, purple or black, smooth or longitudinally ribbed, cylindrical and usually constricted at the apex, glabrous or with elongated twin hairs
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3Flowerheads all more or less sessile in very dense flat-topped heads; corollas cream to yellow; pappus often absent or reduced to a few bristles; involucral bracts membraneous like cellophaneCassinia venusta
Flowerheads shortly pedunculate, inflorescence relatively open, corolla white to cream and pappus always present; involucral bracts cartilaginous
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4Florets 3–6 per capitulum5
Florets 7–12 per capitulum
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5Outer involucral bracts white, strongly 5-ranked; leaves bright green, terete with tightly revolute marginsCassinia maritima
Outer involucral bracts orchre to yellow brown, weakly 5-ranked; leaves grey-green to blue-green, loosely terete to flattened
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Cassinia monticola
6Upper leaf surface glabrous or sparsely and coarsely aculeate; achene 0.9–1.1 mm longCassinia hewsoniae
Upper leaf surface densely and finely acicular; achene 0.5–0.8 mm long
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Cassinia theresae
7Leaves all of equal length, and stiffly spreading at approximately 90 degrees, with few or no lateral shoots developing on the current year shoots until the completion of fruiting; involucral bracts yellow to brown or greenish, mainly hyaline, sometimes opaque white on extreme tips8
Leaves on current years stems of variable length, spreading, erect or reflexed, with additional lateral shoots developing concurrently with flowering; involucral bracts white or cream
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8Flowerheads white, cream or greenish; involucral bracts opaque, at least at tip9
Flowerheads yellow brown; involucral bracts hyaline (apart from stereome)
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9Flowerheads narrow-cylindrical; florets 2–4 per head; paleae often absent; leaf margins revolute to midrib10
Flowerheads broad-cylindrical or globose; florets 5–17 per head; paleae present
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10Young stems densely and finely scabrous with gland-tipped hairs; florets 2 or 3 per headCassinia leptocephala
Young stems cottony; florets 3 or 4 per head
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Cassinia cunninghamii
11Leaves narrow-linear, 10–20 times as long as broad; leaf margins revolute to midrib12
Leaves narrow-ovate to broad-linear or oblanceolate, 5 or 6 times as long as broad; leaf margins not or hardly revolute and lamina flat with under surface exposed
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Cassinia denticulata
12Achenes with very dense white twin hairs 0.2–0.3 mm long onscuring the dark coloured achene; florets 10–17 per head; flowerhead globoseCassinia macrocephala
Achenes with sparse twin hairs 0.05–0.08 mm long, not obscuring achene; florets 5–8 per head; flower head broad-cylindrical
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Cassinia decipiens
13Leaves lanceolate, lamina flat with margins not or hardly revolute; involucral bracts transversely wrinkled near tipCassinia compacta
Leaves linear; lamina flat but margins becoming revolute on drying and leaves then appearing more or less terete; involucral bracts flat or domed but not noticeably wrinkled
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14Mature leaves densely aculeate above with conical hairs 0.05–0.25 mm longCassinia telfordii
Mature leaves glabrous above, or if hairs present, very sparse, rounded papillose, up to 0.05 mm long
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15Involucral bracts membraneous; flowerheads 2.5–3.5 mm long; leaf tip acute but not or hardly mucronateCassinia straminea
Involucral bracts cartilaginous with a very woody stereome at base; flowerheads 3.0–5.0 mm long, with 6 or 7 florets; leaf tip abruptly contracted into a straight mucro
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Cassinia accipitrum
16Mature achenes mid-brown, smooth (no ribs); twin hairs usually moderately dense20
Mature achenes deep red brown, dark chocolate brown or purple-black, with longitudinal ribs and often a transverse apical rib; twin hairs very sparse to almost absent
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17Leaves about 30–40 times as long as wide, 15–50 mm long; flowerheads mostly 4.5–5.0 mm long18
Leaves c. 10–30 times as long as broad, 7–25 mm long; flowerheads mostly 5–6 mm long
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18Flowerheads off-white; leaves 25–50 mm long, slightly rugose but glabrous above; florets 5 or 6 per headCassinia copensis
Flowerheads pale yellow-brown; leaves 15–30 mm long, glabrous and smooth on upper surface, florets 3 or 4 per head
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Cassinia ochracea
19Flowerheads 5.5–6 mm long; mucro well developed on leaf tip, reflexed; florets 5–7 per headCassinia heleniae
Flowerheads < 5.5 mm long; mucro on leaf tip tiny to almost absent; florets 4 or 5 per head
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Cassinia lepschii
20Leaves terete cylindrical21
Leaves distinctly flattened
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21Inflorescences dull white (ocassionally pink fading to white); leaf surfaces densely scabrous; understorey shrubs in dry or wet sclerophyll forests or woodlandCassinia aculeata
Inflorescences ochre coloured; upper leaf surfaces minutely papillose; on coastal cliffs and dunes
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Cassinia thinicola
22Inflorescence bright to dull white (tips of involucral bracts opaque-white23
Inflorescence yellow; tips of involucral bracts opaque-yellow
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Cassinia aureonitens
23Leaves with well-developed lateral veins, parallel and close to margins; lower surface of leaf olive green to green, with an indumentum composed entirely of dense subsessile globular hairsCassinia trinerva
Leaves lacking well developed intermarginal veins; lower surface of leaf with an indumentum composed mainly of long white hairs, with sub-globular hairs beneath , or cottony hairs sometimes sparse and lower surface pale green
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Cassinia longifolia
24Inflorescence sub-conical in outline, as wide as high, loose, heads white to greenish, corollas creamy white25
Inflorescence linear, elongate, often dropping at the tip, loose to compact; heads usually purplish to brownish to reddish; corolla red to cream
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25Leaves linear, c. 1 mm wide26
Leaves lanceolate, ovate or oblong, mostly more than 2 mm wide
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Cassinia subtropica
26Involucral bract tips opaque27
Involucral bract tips translucent
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27Stems olive or red to brown, and/or with a dense indumentum of woolly hairs, or resinous; heads with 5 or 6 florets28
Stems white or pale, with soft woolly hairs; heads with 2–4 florets
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Cassinia laevis
28Leaves 2–4 cm long; involucral bracts arranged in 4 to 5 longitudinally ranked rows (at maturity), sometimes rankedCassinia quinquefaria
Leaves 6–12 mm long; involucral bracts arranged spirally
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Cassinia uncata
29Leaves and stems conspicuously grey or white with woolly hairs; known only from high altitudes in the NANDEWAR RANGECassinia theodorii
Leaves glabrous and sticky above, stems inconspicuously woolly; widespread and often found to be weedy
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Cassinia sifton

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