Seeds of South Australia
Zygophyllum howittii (Zygophyllaceae)
Clasping Twinleaf
List of species for Zygophyllum
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Seed collecting:
July to January
Herbarium regions:
Lake Eyre, Gairdner-Torrens, Flinders Ranges, Eastern, Eyre Peninsula
NRM regions:
Eyre Peninsula, South Australian Arid Lands
IBRA regions
Olary Spur (FLB03)Flinders Lofty Block
 Least Concern   [Edge of range]
Northern Flinders (FLB05) 
 Rare   (IUCN: RA d(ii))   [likes sandy rises]
Central Flinders (FLB06) 
 Rare   (IUCN: RA d(ii))   [likes sandy rises]
Gawler Lakes (GAW03)Gawler
 Least Concern   [southern limit]
Arcoona Plateau (GAW04) 
 Least Concern   [southern limit]
Kingoonya (GAW05) 
 Least Concern   [southern limit]
Torrens (GAW06) 
 Least Concern   [likes sandy rises]
Roxby (GAW07) 
 Rare   (IUCN: RA d(ii))   [likes sandy rises]
Simpson Desert (SSD02)Simpson Strzelecki Dunefields
 Least Concern   [likes sandy rises]
Dieri (SSD03) 
 Least Concern   [likes sandy rises]
Warriner (SSD04) 
 Least Concern   [likes sandy rises]
Strzelecki Desert (SSD05) 
 Least Concern   [likes sandy rises]
Breakaways (STP01)Stony Plains
 Rare   (IUCN: RA d(ii))   [likes sandy rises]
Oodnadatta (STP02) 
 Least Concern   [likes sandy rises]
Murnpeowie (STP03) 
 Least Concern   [likes sandy rises]
Macumba (STP05) 
 Least Concern   [likes sandy rises]
Witjira (STP06) 
 Least Concern   [likes sandy rises]
Baltana (STP07) 
 Least Concern   [likes sandy rises]
Sturt Stony Desert (CHC02)Channel Country
 Least Concern   [likes sandy rises]
Diamantina-Eyre (CHC04) 
 Least Concern   [likes sandy rises]
Coongie (CHC06) 
 Least Concern   [likes sandy rises]
Lake Pure (CHC07) 
 Least Concern   [likes sandy rises]
Pedirka (FIN04)Finke
 Least Concern   [likes sandy rises]
IBRA regions
3 of 6 subregionsFlinders Lofty BlockLeast Concern
, Rare
5 of 8 subregionsGawlerLeast Concern
, Rare
4 of 4 subregionsSimpson Strzelecki DunefieldsLeast Concern
6 of 7 subregionsStony PlainsLeast Concern
, Rare
4 of 4 subregionsChannel CountryLeast Concern
Pedirka (FIN04)FinkeLeast Concern
  [likes sandy rises]
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 Zygophyllum]
Name derivation:
Zygophyllum from the Greek 'zygon' meaning pair and 'phyllon' meaning leaf; referring to the pair of leaflets making up each leaf. Howittii named after Alfred William Howitt (1830-1908), an English-born Australian explorer who lead expeditions to look for pastoral country near Lake Eyre, South Australia and in search of the Burke and Wills expedition. The type specimen was collected by Dr J. Murray, who joined Howitt's second expedition as surgeon and plant collector.
Found in the north-eastern part of South Australia, growing on sandplains, fertile alluvial plains, dunefields, sandy salt-lake margins, breakaways, and intermittent watercourses and run-on areas. Also found in the Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales.
Native. Common in South Australia. Uncommon in New South Wales. Common in the other states.
Plant description:
Spreading, erect or prostrate annual herb 30 cm high. Leaves opposite, succulent, usually bluish-green to pinkish-purple and sometimes glaucous, Y-shaped with the broad petiole-like part continuous with the 2 lobes, to 44 mm long and 30 mm wide. Leaves of upper pairs connate at the base and encircling the stem. Stipules present between pairs of opposite leaves. Inflorescence on a long stalk with small yellow flowers. This is the only species in this genus with some of its parts in 3s and with opposite pairs of leaves joined at the base. Flowering between may and November.  
Fruit type:
Brown with purplish-tinged three-winged capsule to 19 mm long and wide, wings faintly reticulate, with only 1 seed developing in each fruit.
Seed type:
Pale brown narrow ovoid seed to 6 mm long and 2 mm wide, covered in short dense hairs.
Embryo type:
Spatulate fully developed.
Seed collecting:
Collect semi-dried and dried capsules by running your hands through the stems of the plant. Mature fruits will come off easily and will have a hard and dark seed inside each segment.
Seed cleaning:
Place the capsules in a tray and leave to dry for 1 to 2 weeks, depending on the greeness of the fruit. Then rub the dried capsules to dislodge the seeds. Use a sieve to remove 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 one collection, the seed viability was high, at 90%.
Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage
6240 (48.06 g)
6500 (50 g)
5822-Oct-2004MOL 4539
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.