Plant of the Month — January 2013
Tephrosia oxalidea R.Butcher & P.J.H.Hurter
Tephrosia oxalidea is a woody, perennial herb to 25 cm tall with usually trifoliolate, discolorous leaves and short inflorescences bearing 1-3(-5) orange flowers with a cream-yellow eye at the throat. It can be distinguished from all other Western Australian species of Tephrosia by the following combination of characters: plants small and tufted; leaves usually trifoliolate and discolorous with the upper leaflet surface usually green-purple to purple-brown and commonly glabrous; leaf stipules are long and persistent; the flowers are orange and the fruit usually linear with patent hairs and bearing compressed-subglobose, red-brown, rugulose seeds.
Flowering and fruiting in Tephrosia oxalidea has so far been recorded between March and September, although may be continuous throughout the year in response to local rainfall events. This species has mostly been collected from the Hamersley, Packsaddle and Ophthalmia Ranges in the Pilbara bioregion, with additional collections from the Barlee Range on the north-western edge of the Gascoyne bioregion. This taxon does not require a conservation listing as, although it is found on some mining tenements, it also occurs in a number of DEC conservation reserves in the two bioregions, and has an area of occupancy of c. 400 km2.
Tephrosia is derived from the Greek — tephros ‘ash-coloured’ and the epithet oxalidea acknowledges the superficial resemblance of this species to some members of the genus Oxalis. Tephrosia oxalidea was recently described in our journal Nuytsia by Ryonen Butcher and Johan Hurter, from which much of this text is transcribed. The paper also includes a number of detailed colour plates, as well as a comparison of seed morphology in allied WA taxa.
Tephrosia oxalidea R.Butcher & P.J.H.Hurter was previously known under the phrase-name Tephrosia sp. Cathedral Gorge (F.H. Mollemans 2420).
Photo: K. McCreery
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