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Flora of Australia Online

Synaphea spinulosa (Burm.f.) Merr., Proc. Linn. Soc. New South Wales 44: 354 (1919)

Polypodium spinulosum Burm.f., Fl. Indica 233, t. 67, fig. 1 (1768). T: from Java (in error), by deduction, from near Swan R., [south-western W.A.], date and coll. unknown, possibly from the Vlaming voyage, 1697 ; holo: G.

Illustration: A.S.George, Intr. Proteaceae W. Australia 105, pl. 156 (1984).

Stems several, to 50 cm long, appressed- or spreading-pubescent, often also loosely hirsute, glabrescent. Leaves widely tripartite, very undulate or multiplanar; petiole usually 0.5–2 cm long; lamina 2–7 cm long, 3–7 cm wide, puberulous or pilose, often glabrescent; primary lobes usually tripartite; ultimate lobes triangular, 1.5–5 mm wide, usually pungently 1–3-dentate, shallowly to deeply concave; reticulation open, shallow. Spikes in upper axils, 2–5 cm long; flowers ±crowded; peduncle 1–3 cm long, usually branched, tomentose to pubescent; rachis pubescent; bracts ovate, 1.5–4.5 cm long, ascending, acute, hirsute to pubescent or pilose. Perianth usually opening narrowly, puberulous to pubescent; adaxial tepal 4.4–7 mm long, 1.4–3 mm wide; abaxial tepal 3.5–5.5 mm long. Stigma ±broadly ovate or obovate to transversely elliptic, shallowly emarginate, 0.7–1 mm long and wide, ±flat; ovary pubescent or silky. Fruit ellipsoidal to cylindrical, prominently beaked, 3.5–5 mm long, hirsute. 

Widespread between Kalbarri and Bunbury and inland through the central and southern wheatbelt to Esperance, W.A. 

One of the first 2 species of Australian plants named under the Linnaean binomial system. Although Robert Brown recognised that Burman's name applied to a species of Synaphea he placed it in synonymy under S. petiolaris and it remained for Merrill to make the combination. For many years the name was placed in synonymy under S. polymorpha .

Very variable; 3 subspecies are recognised but a number of collections remain to be critically studied, e.g. A.S.George 14384 from South Stirling (PERTH) with widely spaced flowers and narrow fruit with a very short beak; B.H.Smith 906 from Hindmarsh (PERTH) with short spikes and narrow leaves (also collected near Eneabba and Indarra), and R.H.Kuchel 1908 , east of Cranbrook (PERTH), with small leaves and flowers, the latter almost glabrous (also from Two Peoples Bay).


1 Adaxial tepal 4.4–5.5 mm long; abaxial tepal 3.5–4.5 mm long


1: Adaxial tepal 6.5–7 mm long; abaxial tepal 5.3–5.5 mm long

subsp. major

2 Perianth pubescent throughout; stems often hirsute as well as pubescent; fruit 4–5 mm long

subsp. spinulosa

2: Perianth ±glabrous towards apex; stems appressed-tomentose, glabrescent; fruit 3.5 mm long

subsp. borealis


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