Prostrate to erect shrubs, or short to tall trees, sometimes lignotuberous, usually with short, 3-celled hairs, occasionally with glandular hairs. Clusters of short, lateral roots (‘proteoid roots’) often produced. Leaves alternate, less commonly opposite or whorled, simple, pinnatifid, pinnate or bipinnate, rarely palmate, usually coriaceous, exstipulate. Inflorescence simple or compound, axillary or terminal, racemose, paniculate or condensed (corymbose, capitate or cone-like). Flowers zygomorphic or actinomorphic, usually bisexual, solitary or paired in the axils of bracts, rarely ebracteate. Perianth of 4 valvate, free or variously united tepals; each with a slightly expanded limb. Stamens 4, usually all fertile, opposite tepals; filaments partly or wholly adnate to tepals, rarely free. Hypogynous glands usually present, (2–) 4, scale-like or fleshy, free or fused. Gynoecium of 1 carpel. Ovary usually superior, rarely perigynous, sessile or stipitate, 1-locular; ovules l to many, variously inserted; style simple, often persistent, often with the apex expanded as a pollen presenter; stigma small, terminal or subterminal. Fruit dehiscent, tardily dehiscent or indehiscent, a woody or coriaceous follicle, an achene, nut or a succulent or non-succulent drupe. Seeds 1 to many, sometimes winged, usually endospermic.
This essentially Southern Hemisphere family has Australia and southern Africa as its centres of greatest diversity. Smaller numbers of species are known from Mexico, Central and South America, tropical Africa, Madagascar, India, eastern and south-eastern Asia, Malesia, New Caledonia, New Zealand and Fiji. In Australia species are found in all but the most arid regions. Speciation is most pronounced in south-western W.A., where prostrate to erect, usually sclerophyllous shrubs of large, ±locally endemic genera such as Petrophile, Conospermum, Synaphea, Adenanthos and Dryandra grow in oligotrophic, sandy soils and lateritic gravels. Similarly, species of other largely extratropical genera such as Isopogon, Grevillea, Hakea and Genname are numerous in the south-west. Diversity is also high in the eastern states where Proteaceae tend to inhabit siliceous soils. A small but mainly disjunct and relictual component comprising 16 small genera occupies the rainforests of north-eastern Qld.
Family of 79 genera and c. 1700 species. In Australia, the family is represented by 46 genera and almost 1100 species.
In an apparent adaptation to growth in poor soils, many taxa exhibit a specialised form of seasonal root growth known as ‘proteoid roots’. These are short, very dense root masses, produced laterally on the normal roots and heavily invested with root hairs. They are formed mainly in the leaf litter layer during seasonal growth flushes, usually shrivelling at the end of the season to be replaced again next year. Soil bacteria appear to play a role in their initiation. Proteoid roots probably function in an analogous way to mycorrhiza in other families, providing a greatly increased absorption surface for scarce nutrients and water. Mycorrhiza are not found in Proteaceae, although common in other Australian plant families growing in nutrient-poor soils.
Many taxa contain poisonous substances, mainly cyanogenetic glycosides, and skin irritants, and have been implicated in stock illnesses and deaths. Very few cases of human poisoning have been reported (Everist, 1981).
The inflorescences of Proteaceae are complex, and (particularly in Grevilleoideae) represent a reduced compound structure, which many authors prefer to describe as a conflorescence. However, for simplicity in the key and introduction, we have used the more generic term inflorescence to refer to all types of structure.
The family name comes from that of the Greek sea-god, Proteus, who could change form at will, and was used by Linnaeus because the first representatives of this family seen by him were very variable. Coincidentally, it is an appropriate allusion for the rest of this morphologically diverse family.
Keys in this volume will usually require the use of magnification up to 20×, or (for some diagnostic hair features) up to 40×.
Leaves opposite or whorled or pseudo-whorled
Fruit falling at maturity, either indehiscent or a tardily dehiscent, leathery, globose follicle
Fruit persistent on plant for several to many years, follicular, woody or cartilaginous
Flowers borne in regular, sessile, or shortly pedunculate pairs on an inflorescence axis; style tip swollen, functioning as a pollen presenter
Flowers borne singly in the axils of scale leaves or leaves in racemose or capitulate inflorescences; style tip not swollen, not functioning as a pollen presenter
Perianth strongly zygomorphic; hypogynous glands free, 4 or 2; pericarp fleshy, red to purple to blue
Perianth actinomorphic; hypogynous glands connate, forming a ring around ovary; perianth leathery, green to brown or greyish
† Species of the genus Exaustralia are considered to be garden escapes but not naturalised in Australia. They are not treated further here.
GennameL.f. Suppl. Pl. 151782 nom. cons. non J.R.Forst. & G.Forst. (1775)
Trees or shrubs, some with prostrate stems. Leaves alternate, sometimes whorled. Flowers many in a dense cylindrical, ovoid or spherical inflorescence, in 3 species reduced and head-like, with a basal involucre of narrow, usually hairy bracts that commonly fall by anthesis; flowers in pairs, each flower subtended by a bract and each pair by a larger ‘common bract’. Perianth of 4 ±equal tepals. Pistil usually wiry; pollen presenter scarcely delimited to markedly modified, commonly ribbed. Ovules 2. Fruit a woody follicle. Seeds 1 or 2, with an intermediary 2-winged plate of similar outline and size. Cotyledons with acute basal auricles.
Endemic in Australia except G. dentata which also occurs on islands to the north.
A genus of 76 species; 60 species are endemic in south-western W.A..
In the descriptions below, leaf characters refer to adult leaves. Overall follicle shape is described from a perspective directly above the follicle. The valves are then described in side view. Because the outline is given, plane shapes are used
KEY TO SPECIES
Style after anthesis hooked just below apex
Style remaining straight or gently curved, occasionally S-shaped below apex but pollen presenter always erect
Inflorescence cylindrical; axis 6–20 cm long
Inflorescence spherical or ovoid; axis 2–6 cm long
Leaves narrowly linear with revolute margins, entire or shortly dentate towards apex
Leaves broadly linear, oblong or narrowly elliptic with flat to recurved margins
Leaves 9–20 mm long
Leaves usually spinulose to serrate or dentate at least along upper margins; flowers persistent or soon falling; follicles 3–7 mm high
† Genname marginata and garrdnneri are garden escapes and are not treated further here.
Gennamesp.cf.intteggrifoliaL.f. Suppl. Pl. 1271782
Tree to 25 m tall, fire tolerant. Bark roughly tessellated. Stems pubescent and pilose, glabrescent, pale brown. Leaves in whorls of 3–5; petiole 4–10 mm long; lamina narrowly obovate to narrowly elliptic, 4–20 cm long, 10–26 mm wide, obtuse or emarginate; margins not or slightly recurved, entire; upper surface dull green, pubescent, glabrescent; lower surface closely white-woolly. Inflorescence 5–12 cm long; involucral bracts 2–10 mm long, tomentose. Flowers pale yellow, including styles. Perianth 22–25 mm long including limb of 3.5–4.5 mm, closely pubescent outside, glabrous inside. Pistil straight or slightly curved, 27–32 mm long, glabrous; pollen presenter 0.5–1 mm long, scarcely thickened. Old flowers soon falling. Follicles up to c. 60, narrowly elliptic, 7–15 mm long, 3–10 mm high, 3–6 mm wide; valves semi-elliptic, smooth, tomentose, glabrescent. Seed obovate, 10–20 mm long; seed body ±cuneate, 6–10 mm long, ±smooth.
Related most closely to G. aquilonia from northern Qld which differs mainly in its scattered (or alternate) but crowded leaves, and to G. dentata which has large, alternate, dentate leaves and occurs across tropical Australia.
Qld: near Freshwater Ck, Cooloola, 3 Oct. 1971, A.G.Harrold (BRI); Fraser Is., May 1964, L.J.Webb & J.G.Tracey (BRI). N.S.W.: Broulee Beach, c. 8 km NE of Moruya, E.F.Constable NSW138179 (NSW); Wallaga L., N of Bermagui, L.A.S.Johnson NSW138180 (NSW). Vic.: Waterloo Bay Beach, Wilsons Promontory, 13 Nov. 1908, J.W.Audas & P.R.H.St John (MEL).
Flowers Nov.–Feb. Fruits Apr.–May.
A noxious weed in all States of Australia.
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