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Flora of Australia Online



Stirlingia Endl., Gen. Pl. 339 (1837); named after James Stirling (1791–1865), who explored the Swan River in 1827 and was the first Governor of Western Australia

Type: Stirlingia anethifolia (R.Br.) Endl.; lecto, fide A.S.George, Fl. Australia 16: 473 (1995).

Simsia R.Br., Trans. Linn. Soc. London 10: 152 (1810), nom. illeg. non Pers. T: Simsia anethifolia R.Br.; lecto, fide A.S.George, Fl. Australia 16: 473 (1995).

Shrubs or perennial herbs with woody rootstock, or with taproot, glabrous except bracts and fruit. Leaves mostly on lower part of stem, ±dichotomously divided, leathery or soft. Inflorescence scapose, paniculately branched or simple. Flowers in heads or very short spikes; each flower subtended by small bract, pale yellow, often tinged red-brown, turning black. Perianth straight, actinomorphic; lobes of limb separating and reflexed at anthesis. Anthers on short filaments, 2-locular. Hypogynous scales absent. Gynoecium straight; ovary sessile; ovule 1; style end broadly cupular. Fruit an obconical nut, densely silky, falling when mature. n = 13, fide L.A.S.Johnson & B.G.Briggs, Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 70: 103 (1975). 

A genus of 7 species endemic in south-western W.A. 

Distinguished by the straight, regular perianth with lobes sharply reflexed after anthesis, the expanded stigma, the broad, hirsute nut and ±dichotomously divided leaves. Floral morphology is relatively uniform, species being delimited largely on the basis of habit, leaves and inflorescence. In the descriptions below, the relative width of the perianth limb and tube should be noted at the late bud stage. The leaves of the last 4 species are remarkably soft but persist through the typically dry, hot summer.

A.S.George, Intr. Proteaceae W. Australia 101–102 (1984); J.W.Wrigley & M.Fagg, Banksias, Waratahs & Grevilleas 524–526 (1989); P.G.Ladd & S.W.Connell, Andromonoecy and fruit set in three genere of the Proteaceae, Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 116: 77–88 (1994).

1 Leaf segments flat; scape robust, to 1.5 m tall


1: Leaf segments terete; scape slender, not more than 1 m tall


2 Leaves less than 3 cm long, borne along more than half the stem


2: Leaves more than 5 cm long, mostly confined to lower part of stem


3 Heads 6–10 mm diam.; perianth 3–3.5 mm long; leaves leathery


3: Heads 9–15 mm diam.; perianth 4.5–7 mm long; leaves ±soft


4 Scape simple or sparsely branched


4: Scape openly branched


5 Petiole 12–14 cm long; perianth limb broader than tube


5: Petiole 1.5–6.5 cm long; perianth limb narrower than tube


6 Leaves divided up to 10 times into curved, crowded segments; ultimate lobes 1–4 mm long; bracts hoary


6: Leaves divided up to 6 times into straight, open segments; ultimate lobes 2–10 mm long; bracts glabrous



Data derived from Flora of Australia Volumes 16 (1995), 17A (2000) and 17B (1999), products of ABRS, ©Commonwealth of Australia