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Ptilotus yapukaratja (Amaranthaceae), a new species from the Gascoyne bioregion of Western Australia

R.W. Davis & T.A. Hammer, Ptilotus yapukaratja (Amaranthaceae), a new species from WA
© Department of Biodiversity, Conservaon and Aracons 2018 ISSN 2200-2790 (Online)
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Nuytsia The journal of the Western Australian Herbarium
29: 157–160 Published online 13 July 2018
Ptilotus yapukaratja (Amaranthaceae), a new species from the Gascoyne
bioregion of Western Australia
Ptilotus yapukaratja R.W.Davis & T.Hammer, sp. nov.
Type: Lorna Glen, Western Australia, 16 June 2017, K. Millet 346 (holo: PERTH 08904618; iso:
Low, compact, woody, perennial shrubs to 30 cm high, 35 cm wide. Stems terete, glabrescent, with
moderately dense, ascending, sub-verticillate hairs to 0.3 mm long. Basal leaves absent. Cauline
leaves scattered, incurved, narrowly oblanceolate, boat-shaped in cross section, fasciculate at dwarf
stem shoots, 4–10 mm long, 0.9–1.5mm wide, with ascending, sparse, stiff, sub-verticillate hairs to
0.2 mm long; apex mucronate. Inorescences spiciform, terminal, solitary, pink, ovoid, 20–32 mm
long, 28–32 mm diam., 15–25 owers per inorescence. Bracts translucent, pink along midrib,
5.7–6.7 mm long, ovate, with verticillate hairs becoming glabrous towards margins; midrib prominent.
Bracteoles translucent, pink along midrib, 4.8–5.9 mm long, broadly ovate, with verticillate hairs
along central portion; midrib prominent. Flowers curved slightly upwards. Outer tepals pink fading
white towards the base, narrowly oblanceolate, concave, attening towards the apex, 13–14 mm long;
outer surface hairy except at the apex, with dense, appressed to slightly spreading, sub-verticillate
hairs to 3 mm long; inner surface glabrous; apex shortly tapering, entire. Inner tepals pink fading
white towards base, narrowly oblanceolate, concave, 12–13 mm long; outer surface hairy except
at the apex with dense, appressed to ascending, sub-verticillate hairs to 2 mm long; inner surface
glabrous except for a basal tuft of tangled sub-verticillate hairs on the margins; apex centrally
folded, attenuate, entire. Staminal cup symmetrical, 1.2–1.5 mm long, with sub-verticillate hairs
to 1 mm long. Stamens 2; laments glabrous, straight, dilating towards base, 6.5–7.8 mm long;
anthers 0.5–0.7 mm long. Staminodes 3, 0.9–1.1 mm long. Ovary ellipsoid, gibbous, 2.9–3.1 mm
long, 1.6–1.8 mm wide, with a row of verticillate hairs across the summit; stipe terete, 0.7–0.9 mm
long. Style straight to slightly sinuate, excentrically xed to ovary, 7.7–8 mm long, with verticillate
hairs on the basal portion. Seed glossy, brown, 1.9–2.1 mm long. (Figure 1)
Other specimens examined. WESTERN AUSTRALIA: [localities withheld for conservation reasons]
22 Oct. 2013, M. Grifths & S. Cherriman s.n. (PERTH); 17 Feb. 2016, J. Jackson & V. Jackson
330 (PERTH); 17 Feb. 2016, J. Jackson & V. Jackson 331 (PERTH).
Diagnostic features. Ptilotus yapukaratja can be distinguished from all other Ptilotus R.Br. species
by the following combination of characters: a rigid habit, glabrous incurved leaves, bracts longer
than bracteoles, two fertile stamens, an excentrically placed style on the ovary, and a hairy ovary.
Phenology. The new species is only known from two owering and fruiting collections made from
the same locality, one made in October and the other in June. This would suggest owering times
are in response to random rain events.
158 Nuytsia Vol. 29 (2018)
Figure 1. Ptilotus yapukaratja. A – plant in situ, showing habit and habitat; B – a close-up showing an inorescence with an
open ower. Images by K. Millet from K. Millet 346.
R.W. Davis & T.A. Hammer, Ptilotus yapukaratja (Amaranthaceae), a new species from WA
Distribution and habitat. Currently only known from north of Lorna Glen Station, where it is found
at the base of breakaways on shallow rocky slopes in open scrub on brown clayey-sandy soils.
Conservation status. To be listed as Priority One under Conservation Codes for Western Australian
Flora (M. Smith pers. comm.). Ptilotus yapukaratja is only known from the one remote location
north of Lorna Glen Station.
Etymology. The epithet derives from the Matuwa words yapu (rock) and karatja (belonging to),
referring to the rocky habitat where the species occurs (see Figure 1A).
Affinities. The new species is clearly aligned with the P. parvifolius (F.Muell.) F.Muell. complex
(subclade D2 in Hammer et al. 2015), and it is morphologically most similar to P. rigidus Lally
and P. daphne Lally (see Lally 2009). It differs from P. rigidus in having narrowly oblanceolate
leaves 4–10 mm long (cf. narrowly obovate, 2.5–5.5 mm long) and longer bracts (5.7–6.7 mm
long vs 4.5–5.2 mm long); it varies from P. daphne in having much longer bracts (5.7–6.7 mm
long vs 3–4.5 mm long), many more flowers per inflorescence (15–25 vs 7–10), pink tepals
fading white towards base (cf. purple throughout), and a row of hairs along the ovary summit (cf.
hairy ovary throughout). It could also be confused with the morphologically similar P. polakii
F.Muell. subsp. polakii; however, it differs from this taxon in having incurved leaves and an
ellipsoid, gibbous and hairy ovary (cf. straight leaves and an obovoid, glabrous ovary).
Ptilotus yapukaratja has had its ITS (nrDNA) and matK (cpDNA) markers sequenced for a
forthcoming PhD thesis on the molecular systematics of the genus (Hammer in prep.), and is most
similar in its nucleotide sequence to P. disparilis Lally and P. fasciculatus W.Fitzg. (which are
also members of subclade D2). Unlike the new species, P. fasciculatus is a prostrate perennial
herb that occurs on the margins of salt lakes in the Geraldton Sandplains, Avon Wheatbelt
and Mallee bioregions of Western Australia. Ptilotus disparilis differs from the new species
in having tepals less than 6.5 mm long with dense, wavy hairs at the apex and is endemic to
South Australia (Lally 2008). Also included in a forthcoming molecular study were P. rigidus
and P. daphne, which were resolved in the same clade as the new species, but despite their
morphological similarity, they were found to be more varied in the nucleotide sequence (in ITS
and matK) than the new species. This suggests that the new species can be distinguished in both
morphological and molecular characters.
We thank Simon Cherriman and Mike Griffiths who first discovered this taxon, Jennifer Jackson
who facilitated further field observations, and Ken Millet who photographed and made the type
collection. Also, Jo Palmer and Barbara Rye contributed to the improvement of the manuscript.
We acknowledge Elders from the Tarlka Matuwa Piarku Aboriginal Corporation, the traditional
custodians of the Matuwa Kurrara Kurrara Indigenous Protected Area for their contribution to
the name of the new taxon. TAH acknowledges the support of the Forrest Research Foundation
PhD Scholarship.
Hammer, T., Davis, R.W. & Thiele, K.R. (2015). A molecular framework phylogeny for Ptilotus (Amaranthaceae):
evidence for rapid diversification of an arid Australian genus. Taxon 64 (2): 272–285.
160 Nuytsia Vol. 29 (2018)
Lally, T.R. (2008). Resolution of the Ptilotus parvifolius complex (Amaranthaceae). Journal of the Adelaide Botanic
Gardens 22: 37–46.
Lally, T.R. (2009). New taxa of Ptilotus (Amaranthaceae) from Western Australia. Nuytsia 19(1): 53–62.
Robert W. Davis1,3 and Timothy A. Hammer2
1Western Australian Herbarium, Biodiversity and Conservation Science,
Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions,
Locked Bag 104, Bentley Delivery Centre, Western Australia 6983
2School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, The University of Western Australia,
35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, Western Australia 6009
3Corresponding author, email:
Full-text available
The aervoid clade of Amaranthaceae includes the genera Aerva, Kelita, Nothosaerva, and Omegandra and the diverse Australian genus Ptilotus. Unresolved phylogenetic relationships among these genera have hindered investigations into their evolution. These relationships were tested in this thesis, which led to a re-circumscription of their taxonomy. The morphological and ecological partitioning within two widespread species complexes of Ptilotus were also evaluated, resulting in new species. A better understanding of relationships within the aervoids enabled their chronological, ecological and geographic origins to be tested, indicating that Ptilotus originated in Miocene Australia and underwent rapid cladogensis during widespread aridification in Australia.
Full-text available
Ptilotus R.Br. (Amaranthaceae) is a genus of approximately 120 species, all of which are native to continental Australia and with most of the diversity occurring in Western Australia. A key is presented here for 93 species recognised in Western Australia.
Lally, T.R. New taxa of Ptilotus (Amaranthaceae) from Western Australia. Nuytsia 19(1): 53-62 (2009). Two new species, Ptilotus daphne Lally and P. rigidus Lally, and a new subspecies of P. polakii, subsp. juxtus Lally are described, with distribution maps and illustrations provided.
Ptilotus (Amaranthaceae) is an Australian genus with over 100 species, most of which occur in arid Western Australia. Ptilotus has been a taxonomically difficult genus; despite rigorous morphological studies into the genus over many years, previous workers have found it difficult to delimit infrageneric groups due to inconsistent morphological variation. With the goal to establish a phylogenetic framework for the genus, 100 taxa were sampled, including 87 Ptilotus spp., and the ITS nrDNA and matK cpDNA were sequenced. The phylogeny was reconstructed using Bayesian, maximum likelihood and maximum parsimony analyses on separate and concatenated datasets. Morphological characters were assessed and compared to clades on the phylogeny to identify synapomorphies and aid in the construction of an infrageneric classification. A diversification rate analysis was used to identify rate shifts in speciation across the phylogeny. Four major clades of the monophyletic Ptilotus were resolved, three small clades together comprising 27% of sampled taxa and a large, diverse clade comprising the remaining 73%. Four floral synapomorphies were identified as uniquely occurring within the latter, although none were common to all taxa in the clade. The diversification rate analysis identified a probable rate shift at the base of Ptilotus, indicating that the genus may have undergone a rapid diversification early in its evolution. This rapid diversification provides a plausible explanation for the lack of consistent variation in morphology among the major clades.
Resolution of the Ptilotus parvifolius complex (Amaranthaceae)
  • T R Lally
Lally, T.R. (2008). Resolution of the Ptilotus parvifolius complex (Amaranthaceae). Journal of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens 22: 37-46.