Journal of the Australian Native Plants Society Canberra region (Inc)

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Plants of Winter: the Cryptic Cryptandras

By Roger Farrow

Sept 2022

Cryptandra sp Floriferous at Melrose

 Cryptandra is a genus of small shrubs in the family Rhamnaceae with about ten species in New South Wales and about three subspecies reported in the genus C. amara. I say ‘about’ because the taxonomy has been in a state of flux for the last decade or so and this particularly involves the species and sub-species that are found in the ACT.

Following the Flora of NSW, the Wednesday Walkers formerly recorded three sub-species of C. amara on their walks, namely amara, floribunda and longiflora and a second species of Cryptandra, C. propinqua. These names were used in our plant lists until recently. The subspecies floribunda is easily distinguished from the other two by its distinctly rolled leaves whereas those of the others are flat. The former is taller and flowers earlier and is in flower from early July in places like Melrose and Jerrabomberra.

Former C. amara spp amara at Oallen,
Now C. amara
Former C. amara ssp. longiflora at Mulligans,
now C. amara
Former C. amara ssp floribunda at Melrose,
now C. sp. Floriferous (Barker 4031)

The other two sub-species are widespread in open woodland and forest and are separated by the length of their flowers, as one of the names suggests, and these open from August. The three subspecies also co-exist. C. propinqua is distinguished from C. amara by its large spreading sepals. In 2005 Barker et al. in the Census of South Australian Plants listed a Cryptandra sp. floriferous that was treated as C. amara var. floribunda in Qld and NSW. In 2011, it was treated as a synonym for C. tomentosa var. 2 for South Australia but in NSW remains sp. Floriferous (W.R. Barker 4131). C. amara var longiflora is treated as a synonym of C. campanulata in the Flora of SA and is restricted to South Australia. In NSW this subspecies is now considered a variant of C. amara. C. propinqua has been misapplied to C. speciosa var speciosa (Kellerman & Udovicic 2007). A revision of the Cryptandra propinqua complex. Proc. Linnean Soc. NSW 128: 92).

Former C. propinqua at Bradleys
Loop Queanbeyan , now C. speciosa
var speciosa

What’s in a name! Just enjoy them flowering over winter.

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