Branched Centaury
Flower + Sepals
Ellura
Spike Centaury
Flower + Bud
 
    
Spike Centaury (Schenkia australis)Class: Plant (Plantae) - Other Small Plants
Order: Gentianales
Family: Gentian (Gentianaceae)
Species: Spike Centaury (Schenkia australis)
This Photo:     Whole
Synonyms: Centaurium spicatum, Schenkia spicatum
Similar Species: Branched Centaury

General Species Information:
Found on Ellura (in the Murray Mallee) & in the Adelaide Hills
This is one of the more tricky plants to separate out from it's introduced cousins. We have 3 different species, on this web site, which on initial inspection all look the same. We've waited two years to be sure that we actually had the native variety at Ellura, as our single stemmed & flower specimen was not big enough to be sure. But this year (2016) the weather caused a mass germination of very healthy plants.
All 3 can occur together, so it's important to identify each specimen before removing the introduced species.
S. australis has a lop sided growth habit; such that one branch has a flower, and it's paired branch grows as a stem. As such, one stem and one flower cann't exhibit this habit.
The other 2 both branch equally with flowers on the ends of the branches.
This is a generalised habit, though, it does not show on every single pair of branches.
It is said that this habit gives a "raceme" like appearance. Our experience is that, while true, there are not enough flowers to show this habit clearly. But we do find the weeds exhibit much more of a canopy type habit.
The side shot of the flower also shows a gap between the ends of the sepals & the turning of the petal. This is the same as C. erythraea, but different to C. tenuiflorum. We found C. erythraea to be significanly larger than S. australis.

Copyright © 2016- Brett & Marie Smith. All Rights Reserved. Photographed 24-Nov-2016
This species is classed as LC (Least Concern) in the Murray Mallee, by DENR (Regional Species Status Assessments, July 2010)