Seeds of South Australia
Ptilotus whitei (Amaranthaceae)
Shrubby Mulla Mulla
List of species for Ptilotus
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Seed collecting:
October to December
Herbarium regions:
North Western, Lake Eyre
NRM regions:
Alinytjara Wilurara, South Australian Arid Lands
IBRA region
Breakaways (STP01)Stony Plains
 Rare   (IUCN: RA d(ii))   [has been split from P parviflorus into 4 entities]
Peake-Dennison Inlier (STP04) 
 Rare   (IUCN: RA d(ii))   [has been split from P parviflorus into 4 entities]
Baltana (STP07) 
 Rare   (IUCN: RA d(ii))   [has been split from P parviflorus into 4 entities]
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 Ptilotus]
SA Flora:
Flora of South Australia Edition 5
Name derivation:
Ptilotus from the Greek 'ptilotos' meaning feathered or winged; referring to the hairy flowers. Whitei named after Samuel Albert White (1870 - 1954), an avid plant and bird collector in South Australia, Central Australia and Queensland and collected the type specimen at 30 miles East of Deep Well, Lake Eyre Basin in 1913.
Found in an area north of Copper Pedy in South Australia, growing in red, brown or yellow skeletal soilsof gravelly clay or sand, on gibber plains, scree slopes, quartzitic sandstone hills, limestone outcrops, rocky breakaways, gullies and creekbeds. Also found in Northern Territory.
Native. Rare in South Australia. Common in Northern Territory.
Plant description:
Much-branched, sometimes divaricate shrub to 100 cm high, some old branchlets can be spiny, stems striate, glabrous, sometimes glaucous, new stems yellowish or grey-green, older wood brown to grey-black. Leaves narrowly obovate to broadly obovate, sometimes spathulate, to 12 mm long and 6 mm wide, clustered at young stem shoots, glabrous, pale green to yellowish or grey-green, sometimes glaucous. Flower-spike small loose clusters with 10–40  pale pink, pale purple, or grey (from hairs) over red underneath flowers.
Fruit type:
Ovoid head containing numerous long papery and hairy fruits, each containing one seed
Seed type:
Dark brown to black reinform seed to 3 mm long and 2 mm wide.
Embryo type:
Seed collecting:
Be very careful when collecting this species as the fruits contain fine hairs that may cause an allergic reaction for some people. Collect the fruit heads when dried to a pale straw colour. Each fruit should come off the head easily when fingers are rubbed up the stem. Collect more fruits than required as not all fruits will have a viable seed.
Seed cleaning:
Be very careful when cleaning this species as the fruits contain fine hairs that may cause an allergic reaction for some people. To clean, rub the fruit heads gently to dislodge the seed at the base of each fruit. Use a sieve to separate the 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 were high, at 90%.
Seed germination:
Seeds are non-dormant, viable seed should germinate readily.
Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage
BGA620 (1.37 g)100+4-Dec-2010DJD2072
Lake Eyre
1730 (3.26 g)
1730 (3.26 g)
Lake Eyre
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.