Green Mullamulla

Ptilotus polystachyus

Synonyms - Ptilotus alopecuroideus

Family: Amaranthaceae

Names:

Other Names:

Bottlewashers
Fox Brush
Long-tails
Mulla Mulla
Narrow Foxtail
Pussy Tails

Summary:

An open soft shrub to 70 cm tall x 100 cm wide, with long leaves and a cylindrical, honey scented, green to whitish flower head. It often has annual tops with a perennial rootstock.

Description:

Cotyledons:

Two.

First leaves:

Leaves:

Alternate. Usually doesn't form a rosette.
Stipules - None.
Petiole -
Blade - Parallel sided to oval.
Stem leaves - Alternate, parallel sided to narrowly oval. Usually 20-120 mm long x 3-12 mm wide. Lower leaves may be much longer. Edges often wavy.

Stems:

Erect or bending upwards at the ends, simple or branched, striped, grooved and polygonal. Up to 1500 mm tall. Almost hairless or with curled multicellular hairs often with ringed swellings at each septum or joint. Often initially hairy and becoming hairless with age.
Flower stem - Short to long.

Flower head:

Erect, cylindrical, green, dense, compact, honey scented. 30-170 mm long x 10-30 mm diameter. Shortly to long stalked at the ends of branches. Axis woolly.
Bracts persistent, dry, membranous, translucent, narrowly egg shaped. 4-5 mm long. Flat tip.

Flowers:

Small.
Ovary - Superior, almost stalkless, hairless, 1 celled, single pendulous seed.
Style - slender, one sided. Sometimes sparsely hairy near the base.
Stigma - tiny, head like.
Sepals - 5, membranous, parallel sided, rigid, persistent. 10-15 mm long. Upper third usually greenish yellow or occasionally reddish, hairless concave, obtuse. Lower two thirds sparsely hairy with long, erect, multicellular hairs with swellings at each partition(septum). Base of sepals joined into a short tube. Inner sepals hairless on the inside.
Petals - None.
Stamens - 5. Unequal lengths. 1 or 2 don't have anthers.
Filaments - Yellow, slender, joined at the base into a red membranous cup
Anthers - Yellow, 2 celled, narrowly oblong with a broad shallow notch at the base. Open by lengthwise slits.

Fruit:

Bladdery bag with a single seed that is not released.

Seeds:

Compressed.

Roots:

Key Characters:

Leaves alternate, not succulent.
Flowers in axillary spikes
Sepals hirsute with spreading hairs.
Stamens shortly connate at the base into a terminal cup
Anthers 2 celled

Biology:

Life cycle:

A perennial that often acts as an annual or an annually sprouting perennial with the top growth or plant dying in summer.

Physiology:

Drought tolerant.

Reproduction:

By seed.

Flowering times:

Mainly July to November in the Perth Region.
Spring to autumn.
Mainly spring in Western NSW.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Vegetative Propagules:

Re shoots from base.

Hybrids:

A red flowered variety exists.

Allelopathy:

Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Spread by seed. Often forms dense stands after fire or disturbance.

Origin and History:

Native to WA.

Distribution:

ACT, NSW, NT, QLD, SA, TAS, VIC, WA.

Courtesy Australia's Virtual Herbarium.

Habitats:

Common after fires and on disturbed, bared or overgrazed areas.

Climate:

Temperate, sub tropical to arid.

Soil:

Red earths, brown soils, yellow sands, dunes and sandplains.

Plant Associations:

Wide range.

Significance:

Beneficial:

Palatable to stock.

Detrimental:

Weed of roadsides and disturbed areas. Can become semi invasive outside of its natural range.

Toxicity:

Not recorded as toxic.

Legislation:

The Wildlife Conservation Act prohibits the removal of this species from natural stands on government land.

Management and Control:

Grazing, especially when young, normally controls it.

Thresholds:

Eradication strategies:

Burn, then cultivate. Establish vigorous pasture or vegetation. Graze. Spot spray isolated plants and a 5 metre buffer area, until just wet with 1 litre of Tordon®75-D in 100 litres of water.

Herbicide resistance:

None reported.

Biological Control:

Related plants:

Ptilotus

Plants of similar appearance:

References:

Black, J.M. (1965). Flora of South Australia. (Government Printer, Adelaide, South Australia).

Bodkin, F. (1986). Encyclopaedia Botanica. (Angus and Robertson, Australia).

Cunningham, G.M., Mulham, W.E., Milthorpe, P.L. and Leigh, J.H. (1992). Plants of Western New South Wales. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P289. Photo.

Everist, S.L. (1974). Poisonous Plants of Australia. (Angus and Robertson, Sydney).

Hussey, B.M.J., Keighery, G.J., Cousens, R.D., Dodd, J. and Lloyd, S.G. (1997). Western Weeds. A guide to the weeds of Western Australia. (Plant Protection Society of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia). P 80. Photo.

Lamp, C. and Collet, F. (1990). A Field Guide to Weeds in Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne).

Marchant et al (1987). Flora of the Perth Region. (Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Agriculture, Western Australia). P97-98.

Acknowledgments:

Collated by HerbiGuide. Phone 08 98444064 or www.herbiguide.com.au for more information.