Anthocercis ilicifolia var. caldariola. Photo: J. Wrigley © J. Wrigley

Anthocercis intricata. Photo: M. Fagg © ANBG

Anthocercis littorea. Photo: provided by ABRS.

Anthocercis viscosa ssp. caudata. Photo: M. Fagg © ANBG

Anthocercis viscosa ssp. viscosa. Photo: M. Fagg per P. Forster © ANBG


Anthocercis Labill., Nov. Holl. Pl. 2: 19 (1806); from the Greek anthos (a flower) and kerkis (a ray), in reference to the narrow corolla-lobes.

 Type species: A. littorea Labill.

 Shrubs, glabrous, or pubescent with glandular or non-glandular hairs. Leaves alternate or rarely clustered, simple. Inflorescence cyme-, raceme- or panicle-like, terminal and axillary; flowers rarely solitary. Flowers bisexual, actinomorphic or slightly zygomorphic, each subtended by a pair of opposite bracts. Calyx campanulate to cupular, 5–lobed. Corolla narrowly tubular with spreading limb, white, cream or yellow, with dark striations in tube; limb 5–lobed, the lobes induplicate in bud. Stamens 4, didynamous or subequal, inserted at base of corolla-tube; a staminode sometimes present; anthers bilocular, not cohering, dorsifixed, dehiscing by longitudinal slits. Ovary bilocular; stigma capitate, very shortly bilobed. Fruit a smooth capsule, opening from apex by two bifid valves, the lower part enclosed by persistent calyx. Seeds sub-reniform. n = 36; L.Haegi, Telopea 2: 176 (1981).

 A genus of 10 species endemic in southern temperate Australia, with its centre of distribution in the South West Botanical Province of W.A. All species contain tropane alkaloids; some have occasionally caused poisoning in children or have been suspected of poisoning stock.

G.Bentham, Anthocercis (in Scrophulariaceae), in A. de Candolle (ed.), Prodr. 10: 191–192 (1846); J.Miers, On the genera of the tribe Duboisieae, Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. ser. 2, 11: 370–375 (1853); G.Bentham, Anthocercis p.p. (in Scrophularineae), Fl. Austral. 4: 474–481 (1868); L.Haegi, Australian genera of the Solanaceae, in J.G.Hawkes et al., Linn. Soc. Symp. Ser. 7: 121–124 (1979); L.Haegi, A conspectus of Solanaceae tribe Anthocercideae, Telopea 2: 173–180 (1981).

Changes since the Flora of Australia treatment

A new species from Western Australia , Anthocercis sylvicola, was described by T.D. Macfarlane & Wardell-Johnson in Nuytsia in 1996, bringing the total to 10 species.

Phylogenetic studies by Garcia & Olmstead (2003) on the Tribe Anthocercideae using two chloroplast DNA regions indicated thatAnthocercis is monophyletic.

Reference: V.F.Garcia & R.G.Olmstead (2003). Phylogenetics of Tribe Anthocercideaea (Solanaceae) based on ndhF and trnL/F sequence data. Systematic Botany 28: 609-615.

Key to species

Key from Flora of Australia 29: 6-7 (1982). The later described A. sylvicola has been added to the original key.

1 Branchlets spinescent

   2 Branches and leaves conspicuously pubescent       

        3 Flowers white to cream; spines pubescent; corolla lobes glabrous at apex

Anthocercis sylvicola

        3: Flowers green and purple; spines usually glabrous; corolla lobes with hair tufts at apex

Anthocercis anisantha

 2: Branches and leaves glabrous or sparsely pubescent

     4 Inflorescence usually branched; pedicels pubescent; most leaves at least 3 mm wide   

            Anthocercis intricata

     4: Inflorescence not branched; pedicels glabrous or sparsely pubescent; most leaves 0.5–2.5 mm wide

       5 Corolla-lobes with tuft of hairs at apex

            Anthocercis genistoides

       5: Corolla-lobes glabrous at apex  

            Anthocercis anisantha 

1: Branchlets not spinescent

  6 Plant glandular-pubescent, rarely almost glabrous

     7 Leaves 10–30 mm wide   

            Anthocercis viscosa

    7: Leaves 0.5–10 mm wide

      8 Corolla 9–16 mm long, the lobes 4–9 mm long   

            Anthocercis fasciculata

      8: Corolla 15–28 mm long, the lobes 10–20 mm long

         9 Leaves, pedicels and calyces conspicuously glandular hairy; corolla-tube narrowly funnel-shaped 

            Anthocercis angustifolia

         9: Leaves, pedicels and calyces glabrous or sparsely pubescent with inconspicuous hairs; corolla-tube inflated, slightly constricted at apex  

            Anthocercis gracilis

 6: Plant glabrous, rarely pubescent, the branches sometimes with prickles

  10 Leaves 1–2 mm wide, few at flowering; flowers in small groups 

            Anthocercis gracilis

  10: Leaves 4–35 mm wide; branches leafy; inflorescence raceme- or panicle-like

      11 Plant much-branched from base; inflorescence a leafy raceme; corolla-tube not more than one-third of corolla length, the lobes narrow           

            Anthocercis littorea

      11: Plant with 1 or 2 main stems; inflorescence a pyramidal panicle leafless except at base; corolla-tube one-third to one-half of corolla length, the lobes broad 

            Anthocercis ilicifolia