Plant of the Month — December 2014
Anthotium humile R.Br.
Anthotium humile (Dwarf Anthotium) is a small, summer-flowering, perennial herb with linear to terete leaves that grows in sand or clay in winter-wet swamps or on hillslopes in southern Western Australia. It was described in 1810 by Robert Brown, who also named the genus, basing the name on the Greek words anthos (flower) and otos (ear). This recognises the distinctive auricles or ‘ear-shaped’ appendages formed by the inner wings of the two upper corolla lobes that enclose the stylar indusium (the cup-shaped pollen presenter unique to the Goodeniaceae). There are four species in Anthotium and two putative new species, all of which have basal leaves, purple, light blue, white or red corolla lobes, and dehiscent capsules.
Anthotium is the subject of ongoing research by the Goodeniaceae Working Group — an international collaboration between Kelly Shepherd (Western Australian Herbarium) and the labs of Rachel Jabaily (Rhodes College, Memphis) and Dianella Howarth (St John’s University, Queens) in the United States. Using molecular evidence, they have shown that it is closely related to Dampiera and Lechenaultia, genera that share with Anthotium a base chromosome number of x = 9, a lack of stellate hairs, and anthers that are connate around the style. The team is currently using both molecules and morphology to revise the genus and determine if the potentially new species are supported as distinct.
Photo: K. Shepherd
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