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Genus Sclerolaena Family Chenopodiaceae

Description: Perennial or annual, frequently divaricately branching, woody herbs.

Leaves alternate, terete, semiterete or flattened.

Flowers axillary, solitary [paired in some non-N.S.W. species], mostly bisexual. Spines basically arranged alternately to the perianth segments with a pair of spines opposite the radicular bulge, one or more of the spines reduced, absent or modified (e.g. into tubercles). Stamens 5. Styles 2.

Fruiting perianth becoming thickened and hardened, either readily disarticulating or remaining firmly attached to the branch and the whole plant, or section of it, being dispersed. The upper perianth often remaining distinct and termed the 'limb'. Seed vertical to horizontal, released by the breakdown of the woody perianth.

Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 80 species, endemic Australia. Australia: all mainland States.

Text by S. W. L. Jacobs
Taxon concept:

 Key to the species 
1Fruiting perianth bordered by a narrow rim or wing more or less broken up into 5–15 spines or teeth2
Fruiting perianth without a narrow rim or wing, spines 2–63
2Spines or teeth 8–15; lower fruiting perianth almost globoseSclerolaena stelligera
Spines or teeth 5; lower fruiting perianth hemispherical
                       Back to 1
Sclerolaena brachyptera
3Spines usually 2 or 34
Spines mostly 4–6
                       Back to 1
4Spines 2 (sometimes 3 or 4 in Sclerolaena decurrens)5
Spines usually 3 (sometimes 4 in Sclerolaena ventricosa and S. andersonii, 4–6 in S. lanicuspis)
                       Back to 3
5Base of fruit deeply hollowed6
Base of fruit not or slightly hollowed
                       Back to 4
6Fruiting perianth silky-villousSclerolaena eriacantha
Fruiting perianth tomentose, pubescent or glabrous, never silky-villous
                       Back to 5
7Spines erect, parallel, equalSclerolaena parallelicuspis
Spines divergent
                       Back to 6
8Tubercle large, much more conspicuous than the spines, spines to 1 mm long or often reducedSclerolaena uniflora
Tubercle small or the same size as the spines, spines c. 2–5 mm long, not reduced
                       Back to 7
9Fruiting perianth thick-walled, not constricted in middleSclerolaena diacantha
Fruiting perianth thin-walled, more or less constricted in middle
                       Back to 8
Sclerolaena constricta
10Perianth globose or almost so, 5 mm or more longSclerolaena bicornis
Perianth not globose, if almost so then less than 5 mm long
                       Back to 5
11Spines not in same vertical plane, limb not very conspicuousSclerolaena obliquicuspis
Spines in same vertical plane
                       Back to 10
12Upper perianth (limb) as long as lower fruiting perianth13
Upper perianth (limb) shorter than lower perianth but conspicuous; fruiting perianth not ribbed
                       Back to 11
Sclerolaena patenticuspis
13Fruiting perianth tomentose, not ribbedSclerolaena limbata
Fruiting perianth glabrous, ribbed
                       Back to 12
Sclerolaena decurrens
14Fruiting perianth hairy15
Fruiting perianth glabrous
                       Back to 4
15Fruiting perianth villous with long silky hairs, not swollen in lower partSclerolaena lanicuspis
Fruiting perianth tomentose, swollen in lower part
                       Back to 14
Sclerolaena ventricosa
16Spines spreading or recurved17
Spines more or less diverging upwards
                       Back to 14
17Spines usually recurved; fruiting perianth cylindrical, c. twice as long as broadSclerolaena articulata
Spines more or less spreading, perianth c. as long as broad
                       Back to 16
18Main spines arranged with 1 abaxial and 2 lateral in line; stamens 3Sclerolaena divaricata
Main spines arranged with 1 abaxial, 1 lateral, and 1 somewhat adaxial or curved around branch; stamens usually 5
                       Back to 17
Sclerolaena cuneata
19Fruiting perianth conical, base expandedSclerolaena tricuspis
Fruiting perianth not conical, base not expanded
                       Back to 16
20Fruiting perianth laterally attached, much longer than the limbSclerolaena glabra
Fruiting perianth attached basally, c. as long as the limb
                       Back to 19
Sclerolaena decurrens
21Spines usually 4 (2–5 in Sclerolaena decurrens, 4–6 in S. lanicuspis)22
Spines 5 or 6
                       Back to 3
22Plant hairy23
Plant glabrous
                       Back to 21
23Fruiting perianth ribbed, glabrousSclerolaena decurrens
Fruiting perianth not ribbed, hairy
                       Back to 22
24Upper perianth (limb) as long as lower fruiting perianthSclerolaena limbata
Upper perianth (limb) shorter than lower perianth and covered by long silky hairs
                       Back to 23
Sclerolaena lanicuspis
25Limb recurvedSclerolaena divaricata
Limb erect
                       Back to 22
26Fruiting perianth conical, spines more than 10 mm longSclerolaena longicuspis
Fruiting perianth not conical, spines 10 mm long or less
                       Back to 25
27Spines irregularly spaced, usually divergent to horizontalSclerolaena glabra
Spines more or less equally spaced, divergent, erect
                       Back to 26
Sclerolaena tetracuspis
28Spines 5 (sometimes 6 in Sclerolaena lanicuspis and S. convexula)29
Spines 6
                       Back to 21
29Plants hairy30
Plant glabrous or almost so
                       Back to 28
30Fruiting perianth urn-shaped; spines recurvedSclerolaena blackiana
Fruiting perianth not urn-shaped; spines more or less recurved
                       Back to 29
31Limb erect, conspicuous32
Limb recurved, inconspicuous
                       Back to 30
32Fruiting perianth hairySclerolaena lanicuspis
Fruiting perianth glabrous
                       Back to 31
Sclerolaena decurrens
33Leaves obovate to oblanceolate or linear-lanceolate34
Leaves linear to semiterete
                       Back to 31
34Leaves glabrous above, dark greenSclerolaena muricata
Leaves hairy all over
                       Back to 33
Sclerolaena birchii
35Fruiting perianth much longer than broadSclerolaena tubata
Fruiting perianth c. as long as broad
                       Back to 33
36Fruiting perianth globose, summit convex46
Fruiting perianth not globose, summit flat
                       Back to 35
37Fruiting perianth attached basally; leaves tereteSclerolaena johnsonii
Fruiting perianth attached laterally, leaves flat to semiterete
                       Back to 36
Sclerolaena muricata
38Fruiting perianth much longer than broad39
Fruiting perianth c. as long as broad
                       Back to 29
39Fruiting perianth attached basallySclerolaena tubata
Fruiting perianth attached laterally
                       Back to 38
Sclerolaena intricata
40Fruiting perianth attached basally; leaves terete, pale greenSclerolaena johnsonii
Fruiting perianth attached obliquely; leaves flat to semiterete, dark, glaucous
                       Back to 38
Sclerolaena muricata
41Perianth 2-spurred at base, glabrousSclerolaena calcarata
Fruiting perianth not spurred at base, glabrous or hairy
                       Back to 28
42Fruiting perianth urn-shapedSclerolaena anisacanthoides
Fruiting perianth not urn-shaped
                       Back to 41
43Spines c. 1 mm longSclerolaena parviflora
Spines 2 mm or longer
                       Back to 42
44Fruiting perianth covered with long silky hairsSclerolaena lanicuspis
Fruiting perianth loosely hairy
                       Back to 43
45Spines mostly 5, but occasional fruit with 6 spines; fruit mostly 2.5 mm wide; longer spines mostly less than 3 mm long and 0.5 mm or less in diamSclerolaena convexula
Spines 6; fruit 3 mm or more wide at the widest point; longer spines mostly more than 3 mm long and 0.5 mm or more in diam
                       Back to 44
Sclerolaena napiformis
46The three longest spines on fruiting body mostly <3 mm longSclerolaena convexula
The three longest spines on fruiting body mostly >5 mm long
                       Back to 36
Sclerolaena deserticola

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