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Adenanthos Labill., Nov. Holl. Pl. 1: 28 (1805); from the Greek aden (a gland) and anthos (a flower), in reference to the prominent glands at the base of the ovary

Type: Adenanthos cuneatus Labill.

Shrubs or small trees, some with lignotubers; branches erect or prostrate; bark smooth, rarely warty. Leaves simple, entire or lobed, or deeply segmented, glandular, sclerified. Inflorescence solitary, axillary or terminal, single-flowered. Flowers zygomorphic, bisexual, sessile, within an involucre of numerous, scale-like bracts. Perianth tubular, with 4 tepals, hirsute outside, bearded inside behind anthers. Stamen filaments fused to tepal claws; all stamens perfect and fertile, or adaxial stamen sterile. Hypogynous glands 4, alternating with tepals. Ovary sessile; style terminal; pollen presenter conical or flattened and elliptic; ovule 1. Fruit an achene. n = 13, H.P.Ramsay, Austral. J. Bot. 11: 4 (1963); G.J.Keighery, Taxon 24: 510 (1975). 

A genus of 33 species endemic in southern temperate Australia; 2 species in south-eastern S.A. and Vic. and 31 species in south-western W.A. 

Although anthos has the neuter gender in Greek, Labillardière gave Adenanthos feminine gender. However, the genus is treated here as masculine as required by the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature 1994 [Art. 62.2.c].

In leaves that have deep indentations, the initial division of the leaf is termed a segment. If the leaf is divided further and the division is very pronounced (e.g. into terete, filiform divisions), the ultimate divisions of the segments are termed laciniae. The number of laciniae varies within and between species and is an important character in species delimitation. The term lobe is used when the leaf is not deeply divided but the margin is merely indented. Such leaves have a broad basal portion which is flattened and this constitutes the leaf lamina. For an overview of the range of leaf shapes in Adenanthos , see E.C.Nelson, Brunonia 1: 307, fig. 2 (1978).

A.S.George, Five new species of Adenanthos (Proteaceae) from Western Australia, Nuytsia 1: 381–385 (1974); E.C.Nelson, Studies in Adenanthos Labill. (Proteaceae) II: the taxonomic status of A. velutina Meisn. reassessed, Glasra 2: 5–70 (1978); E.C.Nelson, A taxonomic revision of the genus Adenanthos (Proteaceae), Brunonia 1: 303–406 (1978); A.S.George, Intr. Proteaceae W. Australia 2–5 (1984); E.C.Nelson, Adenanthos × pamela (Proteaceae), a hybrid from south-western W. Australia, Glasra 9: 1–5 (1986); J.W.Wrigley & M.Fagg, Banksias, Waratahs & Grevilleas 58–73 (1989).


One anther sterile, with stamen reduced to a linear filament; pollen presenter flattened and elliptic, much broader that distal part of style


All anthers fertile; pollen presenter conical, only slightly broader than distal part of style



Flowering material is essential for the accurate identification of Adenanthos spp., and this key combines vegetative and floral characters. Flower length is the total length of the perianth tube immediately prior to anthesis.

1 One stamen sterile; pollen presenter flattened and elliptic; leaves entire


1: All stamens fertile; pollen presenter conical; leaves entire or lobed or deeply segmented


2 Leaves linear-lanceolate or oblong-linear to elliptic, more than 30 mm long; flower bud with acute, upturned apex; involucral bracts conspicuously hirsute


2: Leaves elliptic or obovate to spathulate, usually less than 30 mm long; flower bud with obtuse apex, not upturned; involucral bracts glabrous or sparsely pubescent


3 Leaves with conspicuous, scattered, tuberculate glands; flowers yellow; shrub without lignotuber


3: Leaves without scattered glands but with a single apical gland; flowers red; shrub with lignotuber


4 Flowers scarlet (very rarely orange); leaves without scattered glands but with a single apical gland


4: Flowers bright orange or pale red; leaves with numerous scattered glands

× pamela

5 Leaves with terete laciniae; flowers not more than 15 mm long


5: Leaves entire or lobed or with terete segments or laciniae; flowers more than 15 mm long and generally more than 20 mm long


6 Leaves usually with 5 laciniae; flowers yellow with red apex; perianth tube with dense tuft of hairs inside at throat after anthesis; style sharply recurved at base, almost straight above after anthesis


6: Leaves with 3 or 5 laciniae; flowers cream or pale pink; perianth tube without hairs inside; style distinctly arcuate after anthesis


7 Leaves hirsute with silvery sheen; flowers cream or pink; erect shrub


7: Leaves glabrous or nearly so, without silvery sheen; flowers cream; prostrate shrub


8 Leaves entire (very rarely with some lobed leaves)


8: Leaves lobed or deeply divided (very rarely with some entire leaves)


9 Leaves linear


9: Leaves not linear


10 Leaves not rigid, flattened in cross-section, obtuse; flowers cream


10: Leaves rigid (densely sclerified), terete, with sharply pointed apices; flowers pink


11 Flowers with glandular hairs on outside, claret with cream band in centre; leaves ovate to obovate, acuminate or mucronate-acute, with tuft of hairs near base, but otherwise glabrous


11: Flowers without glandular hairs, colour not as above; leaves not as above


12 Leaves sessile; flowers 22–25 mm long; erect shrub to 70 cm tall


12: Leaves petiolate; flowers 24–30 mm long; shrub prostrate or erect to 3 m tall


13 Leaves conspicuously tomentose with silvery sheen; involucral bracts without conspicuous apical glands; style glabrous or sparsely hirsute; ovary hirsute


13: Leaves glabrescent; involucral bracts with conspicuous apical glands; style glabrous; ovary glabrous


14 Leaves almost glabrous, without silvery sheen, to 30 mm long


14: Leaves tomentose, silvery, 20 mm long or less


15 Leaves cuneate, with numerous, scattered glands; flowers crimson


15: Leaves spathulate or obovate, with single apical gland only (or single apical gland on each segment); flowers pale red and cream, or cream


16 Leaves deeply divided into segments or laciniae; segments or laciniae terete, linear, spathulate or obovate, without marginal spines


16: Leaves with broad lamina, with rounded or triangular apical lobes only, or with marginal spines


17 Segments rigid (densely sclerified) and terete


17: Segments or laciniae not as above (if terete, then not rigid)


18 Segments 2 or 3, sharply pointed; flowers pink; style often hirsute near apex; shrubs without lignotuber


18: Laciniae 3–6, not sharply pointed; flowers cream and reddish pink; style glabrous; shrubs with lignotuber


19 Flowers with glandular hairs outside, occasionally with glandular hairs on leaves


19: Flowers and leaves without glandular hairs


20 Leaves without velvety indumentum, but petiole sometimes densely hairy; flowers purple; involucral bracts less than 5 mm long


20: Leaves with persistent, conspicuous, velvety indumentum; flowers cream and grey-black; involucral bracts to 8 (–9) mm long


21 Segments or laciniae flattened in T.S.


21: Laciniae terete (A. oreophilus ±terete, channelled in upper surface)


22 Leaf with 2 or 3 segments, not further divided; segments spathulate, obovate or obovate-lanceolate


22: Leaf with 3 or more laciniae or apical lobes; lobes or laciniae linear to linear-ovate and not conspicuously broader near apex


23 Segments with emarginate apex, to 5 mm long; flowers cream and pale red or cream; ovary hirsute; bark not warty


23: Segments without emarginate apex, to 10 mm long; flowers dark crimson; ovary glabrous; bark warty


24 Laciniae at least 6, linear; leaves c. 25–30 mm long; flowers dull crimson; shrub without lignotuber, to 2 m tall

× cunninghamii

24: Apical lobes mostly 3 to 5, linear-ovate to linear; leaves 10–15 mm long; flowers bright pink; shrub with lignotuber, rarely more than 1 m tall


25 Most leaves with 5 or fewer laciniae


25: Most leaves with more than 5 laciniae


26 Mature leaves glabrous or often glabrescent with hairs persisting at the base; flowers pale pink, creamy green, cream or cream and green, or claret and cream, shortly hairy or villose


26: Leaves usually with persistent appressed straight hairs, often silvery; flowers scarlet or bright pink, rarely pale pink or cream, if pale pink or cream then with hairs conspicuous and white or yellow


27 Mature leaves glabrous or with hairs near base of floral leaves; flowers to 16 mm long, cream or cream and green; ovary densely hirsute [S.A. & Vic.]


27: Leaves often glabrescent but with hairs persisting near base; flowers 22–28 mm long, pink and green, or creamy green, or claret and cream; ovary glabrous [W.A.]


28 Leaves to 20 mm long, with both curled and straight hairs; flowers pink and green, or creamy green; style c. 37 mm long


28: Leaves c. 15 mm long, with long hairs often persistent towards base and on petiole; flowers cream with claret base and dark claret apex; style to 33 mm long


29 Leaves c. 20 mm long; flowers scarlet


29: Leaves to 15 mm long; flowers bright pink (rarely cream or pale pink) with yellow or white hairs


30 Leaves sessile or almost so, to 15 mm long; shrub with lignotuber; perianth c. 27 mm long; ovary hirsute


30: Leaves distinctly petiolate, to 10 mm long; shrub without lignotuber; perianth c. 20 mm long; ovary glabrous


31 Flowers scarlet, usually concealed by leaves; leaves 25–45 mm long


31: Flowers not scarlet; leaves 20 mm long or less, not concealing flowers


32 Leaves silvery, with 9 laciniae; flowers bright pink or rarely yellow [Kangaroo Is., S.A.]


32: Leaves not silvery, almost glabrous or glabrescent, with 5–7 (–9) or more than 12 laciniae; flowers cream and blue-black, cream and claret, pink and green or creamy green [W.A.]


33 Leaves with more than 12 laciniae; involucral bracts to 6 mm long; flowers to 21 mm long, cream and blue-black


33: Leaves with 5 (–9) or 5–7 laciniae; involucral bracts less than 5 mm long; flowers 22–28 mm long, cream and claret, pink and green or creamy green


34 Leaves to 20 mm long, with 5–7 laciniae, with short curled and long straight hairs persistent near base; flowers pink and green or creamy green; style c. 37 mm long


34: Leaves c. 15 mm long, with 5 (–9) laciniae, with long hairs often persistent towards base; flowers cream with claret base and dark claret apex; style to 33 mm long


35 Leaves with marginal spines


35: Leaves without marginal spines


36 Leaves to 30 mm long, glabrescent, elliptic to obovate; flowers cream and orange-red


36: Leaves on mature plants 25 mm long or less, cuneate, fan-shaped or ±triangular; leaves glabrous, glabrescent or tomentose; flowers crimson, bright pink or cream and pale pink


37 Leaves with minute, scattered glands; flowers crimson


37: Leaves without scattered glands on lamina but lobes each with single apical gland; flowers pink or pink and cream


38 Shrub with a lignotuber; mature leaves silvery tomentose, to 20 mm long; style to 40 mm long, with long hairs above and shorter hairs near base; ovary glabrous


38: Shrub without a lignotuber; leaves on mature plants ±glabrescent, to 25 mm long; style c. 35 mm long, with long and short hairs above, short hairs only at base; ovary pubescent


39 Shrub to 2 m tall; leaves to 10 mm long, with 3 apical lobes, lobed to about 1/4 of length of leaf; flowers cream and pale pink


39: Shrub rarely over 1 m tall; leaves 10–15 mm long, with 3–5 (–7) lobes incised to at least 1/2 of length of leaf; flowers bright pink



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