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Genus Muehlenbeckia Family Polygonaceae

Synonyms: Homalocladium APNI*

Description: Perennial shrubs or climbers, dioecious or rarely monoecious, glabrous.

Leaves petiolate or sessile, with a band of abscission tissue at base of petiole; pit nectaries present; ocrea short-tubular, brown, not ciliate on upper margin, soon disintegrating.

Flowers unisexual, in a narrow spike-like inflorescence or in subsessile clusters. Perianth segments 5, sepaloid, often enlarging and fleshy (and then readily caducous) or membranous when fruiting, not winged. Stamens usually 8 in male flowers; anthers versatile; staminodes present in female flowers. Style trifid, short; stigmas flattened, peltate, fimbriate, delicate.

Achene trigonous or globose, at least partly enclosed by the persistent perianth.

Photo Karen L Wilson

Other photo
Photo D.W. Ougham


Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 19 species, Australia, New Guinea, New Zealand & South America. Australia: 11 species, all States. M. complexa and M. platyclada are often cultivated.

Text by K.L. Wilson (1990); edited KLW Wilson (Aug 2012, Dec 2012)
Taxon concept:

 Key to the species 
1Plants forming a more or less tangled, wiry mass, prostrate to nearly 2 m tall; leaves <1 cm long (rarely to 2 cm in M. complexa)6
Plants with habit otherwise (shrubs,subshrubs, climbers); leaves 2–12 cm long (rarely shorter in M. diclina, which is an erect shrub)2
2Leaves c. 1–2 times as long as wide, ovate, obovate, subcircular to oblong or sagittate, with distinct petiole and base sagittate, cordate or truncate (rarely attenuate in Muehlenbeckia axillaris), persistent; plants twining, climbing, mat-forming, or decumbent subshrubs3
Leaves 4–10 times as long as wide, linear to narrow-lanceolate (rarely hastate on young stems), sessile to subsessile with base attenuate, often not persistent on older stems; plants erect, shrubs, often intricately branched
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Muehlenbeckia diclina
3Leaves with lamina sagittate, apex long-acuminate to long-acute; nut subglobose, obscurely 3-ribbed, 2.0–2.5 mm long; anthers 0.4–0.6 mm longMuehlenbeckia gracillima
Leaves with lamina oblong-ovate to semicircular, the base truncate or broad-cuneate to more or less sagittate, apex obtuse to retuse and short-acuminate; nut trigonous to circular in cross-section, 2.7–5 mm long; anthers 0.6–1.7 mm long
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4Stems and leaves usually strongly glaucous; erect or decumbent low shrub to 1.5 m high with stems mostly 4–15 mm diam.; anthers 1.0–1.7 mm long; leaf margins flat or somewhat undulate, usually not crispedMuehlenbeckia rhyticarya
Stems and leaves not glaucous; decumbent, twining or climbing low shrubs with stems usually less than 4 mm diam.; anthers 0.6–1.0 mm long; leaf margins strongly crisped
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5Nut tuberculate, subglobose, 3-ribbed near the apex with 6 additional longitudinal ridges below, 2.5–3.5 mm long; leaves ovate to oblong-ovate, often irregularly white-scabrous on the veins and marginsMuehlenbeckia sp. Mt Norman (J.T.Hunter 3847)
Nut smooth, ellipsoid to obovoid, with 3 longitudinal ribs, sides may be concave, 2.7–3.0 mm long; leaves semicircular to oblong-ovate, glabrous
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Muehlenbeckia adpressa
6Leaves subcircular to elliptic or ovate (subpanduriform in juvenile plants); inflorescence usually axillary (rarely a few terminal on short lateral branchlets)7
Leaves oblong to subpanduriform or narrow oblong-obovate; inflorescence usually terminal; only along the Murrumbidgee River
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Muehlenbeckia tuggeranong
7More or less prostrate habit; grows at high altitude along the Great DivideMuehlenbeckia axillaris
Twining, climbing, mounding habit; native on Lord Howe Island, cultivated widely
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Muehlenbeckia complexa

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