Description: Perennial or sometimes annual herbs, or shrubs.
Leaves simple, usually in a basal rosette, leafy branches sometimes present; basal and stem leaves often absent at flowering.
Inflorescence a broad corymbose panicle, with terminal parts spike-like of 1–5 flowers clustered within 3 bracts. Calyx funnel-shaped, with 5 lobes spreading, dry and membranous, usually brightly coloured and obvious, persistent. Corolla shortly tubular, funnel-shaped. Stamens 5, fused to the base of the corolla tube. Styles 5, usually distinct.
Capsule small, enclosed in persistent calyx. Seed small.
Distribution and occurrence: World: 300 species, cosmopolitan, especially Mediterranean to Asia. Australia: 7 species (2 species endemic, 5 species naturalized), all States.
Chiefly in maritime conditions or saline deserts.
A number of species are cultivated as ornamentals. Some of these have become naturalized and are becoming invasive weeds, others are only isolated occurrences.
Text by G. J. Harden (1990); edited KL Wilson (Dec 2013)
| ||Key to the species|| |
|1||Flowering stems not winged, stems terete or ribbed; calyx less than 5 mm long||2|
|Flowering stems prominently 3-winged; calyx more than 8 mm long||4|
|2||Stem leaves scale-like, often apparently absent||3|
|Stem leaves more than 10 mm wide, often falling early|
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|3||Corolla pink to violet; calyx 4.5–5.5 mm long, pink||Limonium hyblaeum|
|Corolla yellow; calyx 6–8 mm long, white to pale pink |
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|4||Wings of stem and branchlets 3–8 mm wide, ending in a stiff lobe 10–30 mm long; calyx pale blue or whitish, c. 10 mm long; more or less glabrous annual||Limonium lobatum|
|Wings of stem 1–3 mm wide, ending in a linear to lanceolate leaf-like appendage 20–50 mm long; calyx bright blue or purplish, c. 15 mm long; scabrous perennial|
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