Spike Centaury
S9, Sepals
Ellura
Spike Centaury
S4, Flower
 
                      
Spike Centaury (Schenkia australis)Class: Plants (Plantae) - Land Plants (Charophyta) - Land Plants (Equisetopsida) - Other Small Plants
Order: Centauries (Gentianales)
Family: Gentian (Gentianaceae)     iNaturalist Observation
Species: Spike Centaury (Schenkia australis)
This Photo:     🔍S10, Flower, profile, Close Up🔎
Synonyms: Centaurium spicatum or Schenkia spicatum

Thank you BaronSamedi for confirming the id of this species for us

General Species Information:
Found on Ellura (in the Murray Mallee, SA), the Adelaide Hills and elsewhere
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, as well as 2022) 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 one or more stems. This habit gives a "raceme" like appearance.
The other 2 introduced species both branch equally with flowers on the ends of the branches. This gives a panicle of flowers.
This is a generalised habit, though, it does not show on every single pair of branches.
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.
A very general rule of thumb is that the native has flowers in the middle of the plant, the weeds have the flowers at the top.

Similar Species: Branched Centaury (Centaurium tenuiflorum)

Copyright © 2022-2023 Brett & Marie Smith. All Rights Reserved. Photographed 21-Dec-2022
This species is classed as LC (Least Concern) in the Murray Mallee, SA, by DENR (Regional Species Status Assessments, July 2010)