Photo: M. Fagg ANBG

Photo: M. Fagg ANBG

Photo: M. Fagg ANBG


Anthocercis ilicifolia Hook., Bot. Mag. 57: sub t. 2961 (1830) subsp.  ilicifolia 

T: Swan River, W.A., Fraser s.n.; holo: K; iso: BM, K.


Erect shrub to 2.7 m with 1 or 2 stems, branches often tinged with purple, branches and leaves glabrous, rarely with scattered glandular hairs; seedlings with prickles on stems.

Leaves obovate to narrowly obovate-elliptic, occasionally spathulate or elliptic, sessile or almost so, 15–80 mm long, 7–35 mm wide, thick and fleshy, entire, or the juvenile leaves dentate.

Inflorescence panicle-like, leafless except at base; pedicels 3–8 mm long. Calyx 4–8 mm long; tube funnel-shaped, widest immediately below lobes, maximum diam. 2.5–3.5 mm, thin-textured.  Corolla 12–27 mm long, bright yellow, the striations purple to maroon; tube often tinged with purple outside; lobes linear, 6–18 mm long, 3–6 mm wide. Stamens 4–10 mm long; upper stamens 6–7.5 mm long. 

Capsule narrowly ovoid-ellipsoid, acute to apiculate, 11–21 mm long. Seeds 1.4–1.9 mm long.

Distribution and ecology

Endemic to the south-western coast of W.A. from south of Kalbarri to Perth.

Grows in calcareous sand; a colonising species common after fire or disturbance.


Distinct from subsp. caldariola by the funnel-shaped and thin-textured calyx tube and by the wider distribution which does not include the Kalbarri region.

Easily confused with A. littorea Labill., with which it is sympatric; distinguished by the large, pyramidal, leafless inflorescence, brighter yellow flowers, larger corolla tube and broader corolla lobes.

Fruit often malformed due to galling.

Phylogenetic studies by Garcia & Olmstead (2003) on the Tribe Anthocercideae using two chloroplast DNA regions included this species. The studies indicated that Anthocercis 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.

Selected specimens

W.A.: c. 10 km NE of Jurien Bay, L. Haegi 1906 (AD, CANB, NSW, PERTH); Perth, F.C.Vasek 681005–6 (PERTH).


Derivation of epithet

From Ilex, the holly and folius, Latin for leaf, a reference to resemblance of the leaves of this plant to a holly plant.

Images and information on web

Images of A. ilicifolia ssp. ilicifolia can be seen on the Western Australia Herbarium Florabase website at and on the Canberra Botanic Gardens site at

Pharmacology: A discussion of the tropane alkaloids which occur in Anthocercis and other Anthocercideae can be found in Griffith & Lin (2000).

Ref: W.J. Griffin & G.D. Lin (2000). Chemotaxonomy and geographical distribution of tropane alkaloids. Phytochemistry 53: 627–628.

References to the possible toxic properties of Anthocercis species can be found with a search in the FDA Poisonous Plant Database