Having been confused by the apparent similarities between Ruby Saltbush, Enchylaena tomentosa var. tomentosa and Coast Bonefruit, Threlkeldia diffusa, I thought a comparison of the two would provide a useful investigation for the March Plant Study Group.

 

Ruby Saltbush
Ruby Saltbush

Coast Bonefruit
Coast Bonefruit

Regardless of both having very challenging small flowers we were able to identify sufficient characteristics that enabled us to confidently separate the two. A hand lens is all you need.

  Ruby Saltbush Coast Bonefruit
Stems Hairy / Tomentose Smooth / Glabrous
Leaf texture Hairy / Tomentose, especially when young Smooth / Glabrous
Leaf size 5-20mm in length 5-15mm in length
Flower texture Hairy / Tomentose Smooth / Glabrous
Fruit Colour Green turning Yellow or Red Green turning Red / Purple in warmer months
Fruit Shape Flattened soft berry-like fruit Ovoid hard woody fruit

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another summer flowering coastal plant, Cushion Bush, Leucophyta brownii, revealed its beautiful flowers under magnification.

Cushion Bush
Cushion Bush

To understand these flowers we needed to appreciate the fact that one flower is in fact a composite of many individual flowers known as florets, these florets containing all that is required for successful reproduction.

Leucophyta brownii is a member of the daisy family known as Asteraceae. The previous, now superseded name for this plant family was Compositae.

Gail Slykhuis

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