Seeds of South Australia
Cullen microcephalum (Leguminosae)
Dusky Scurf-pea
List of species for Cullen
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Seed collecting:
January to April
Herbarium region:
South Eastern
NRM region:
South East
IBRA regions
Mount Gambier (SVP02)Southern Volcanic Plain
 Regionally Extinct   [possibly extinct]
Glenelg Plain (NCP02)Naracoorte Coastal Plain
 Endangered   (IUCN: EN D)   [(no records) in Honans NFR only 1 known location in swampy grazed area]
RSCA map:
Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion. Please click the thumbnail map.
AVH map:
Australian distribution map (external link)
SA Census:
Census of South Australian plants (external link)     [genus Cullen]
Name derivation:
Cullen named after William Cullen (1710-1790), a Scottish physician and chemist who lectured at the University of Glasgow on botany, among other things . Microcephalum from the Greek 'mikros' meaning small and 'cephalum' meaning head, referring to the species small flower-heads.
Known only from one location near Mount Gambier in South Australia growing in moist shady grassy woodland. Also found in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.
Native. Very rare in South Australia. Rare in Tasmania. Uncommon in Victoria and New South Wales.
Plant description:
Trailing or ascending perennial herb with stems to 80 cm long, glabrous or with sparse appressed dark hairs, gland-dotted. Leaves to 15 cm long, palmately 3-foliate; leaflets lanceolate to ovate-oblong to 7 cm long and 20 mm wide; apex acute, margins entire; upper surface dotted with dark glands. Flower-spike  clustered at tip with mauve-purple, pink or white pea-flowers. Pods c. 3 mm long, glabrous, wrinkled, black. Flowering between November to April.
Fruit type:
Black ovoid pod to 3 mm long, with one seed inside.
Seed type:
Black globular seed to 3 mm long and 2 mm wide, with a deep wrinkled surface.
Embryo type:
Seed collecting:
Collect maturing pods, those that are fat, turning black and contain a brown seed inside, by running your hands along the fruit-spikes.
Seed cleaning:
Place the pods in a tray and leave to dry for 1 to 2 weeks or until the pods begin to split. Then rub the dried pods to dislodge the seeds. Use a sieve to separate any unwanted material. Store the seeds with a desiccant such as dried silica beads or dry rice, in an air tight container in a cool and dry place.
Seed viability:
From two collections, the seed viability was high, at 100%.
Seed germination:
This species has physical dormancy that needs to be overcome for the seed to germinate (e.g. nicking or softening the seed coat).
Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage
590 (2.46 g)
1100 (4.62 g)
South Eastern
BGA4400 (21.61 g)50+8-Jan-2008TJH3
South Eastern
BGA5400 (22.38 g)200+15-Jan-2013DJD2623
South Eastern
27-Feb-2014 (Xray 72%)-18°C
Location: BGA — the seeds are stored at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, MSB — the seeds are stored at the Millennium Seed Bank, Kew, England.
Number of plants: This is the number of plants from which the seeds were collected.
Collection location: The Herbarium of South Australia's region name.
% Viability: Percentage of filled healthy seeds determined by a cut test or x-ray.
Germination table:
DateResultT0T50Pre-treatment | Germination medium | Incubator: Photoperiod / Thermoperiod
Apr-1398%6 d6 d seed coat nicked with scalpel;
1% agar;
Incubated under spring/autumn conditions
Result: Maximum percentage of germination observed.
T0: Number of days before first germinant observed.
T50: Number of days to achieve 50% germination.
Pre-treatment: The initial treatment that the seeds received prior to placement on germination media.
Germination medium: The substrate that seeds were placed on for the duration of the germination experiment.
Incubator conditions:
Photoperiod: The duration of light exposure that the seeds were subject to during a 24 hour period.
Thermoperiod: The constant or diurnal temperatures that seeds were subject to during a 24 hour period.
Winter conditions: 15°C 20 h (3am→11pm); 5°C 4 h (11pm→3am) / 10 h light (8am→6pm); 14 h dark (6pm→8am)
Spring/Autumn conditions: 22°C 12 h (8am→8pm); 10°C 12 h (8pm→8am) / 12 h light (8am→8pm); 12 h dark (8pm→8am)
Summer conditions: 30°C 14 h (6am→8pm); 15°C 10 h (8pm→6am) / 14 h light (6am→8pm); 10 h dark (8pm→6am)