Identifying Spoons - Spatalla
The genus Spatalla is most easily recognized by the undivided leaves, three or one flowered involucres, the perianth which is always curved away from the centre of the involucre, one perianth segment may be much larger than the other three free perianth segments, and by the prominent spoon-like pollen-presenter. Fruit are hairy cylindrical nuts with a truncate and stalked base.
The Spoons are clearly related to the Powderpuffs. A legacy of their ancestry are the four floral bracts which subtend the 3 or 1 flowered involucres. Normally one would expect a single floral bract per flower. Reduction of floral bracts does occur in the Unispoons, but never attains a 1:1 relationship characteristic of the Powderpuffs.a
Features used for the identification of Spatalla species include the inflorescence shape and type, the shape, size and hairyness of the bracteoles, the presence of hairs on the style, pollen presenter shape, and various leaf characters.
1. Involucres three flowered Section CYRTOSTIGMA
1' Involucres one flowered Section SPATALLA
The Triplespoons are characterized by having three flowers per involucre. They are therefore more closely related to the Powderpuffs than the Unispoons are. The Triplespoons are confined to the area north of the Riviersonderend River in the west and in the east occur on the Swartberg and Kammanasie Mountains.
Two groups can be distinguished using a hand lens:
Spatalla tulbaghensis SHAGGY-HAIRED TRIPLESPOON
Spatalla caudata WOOLLY TRIPLESPOON
Spatalla confusa LONG-TUBED TRIPLESPOON
Spatalla thyrsiflora SWAN-NECK TRIPLESPOON
Spatalla incurva SWAN-HEAD
Spatalla argentea SILVER-LEAF TRIPLESPOON
Spatalla propinqua LAX TRIPLESPOON
The Unispoons are easily identified by the inflorescences which consist of one flowered involucreSpatalla That these are involucres and not single flowers can be ascertained by the presence of 3 or 4 bracteoles subtending each flower. The Unispoons are more different from the Powderpuffs than the Triplespoons and show a progression from the primitive four-bracteole Sorocephalus state (Spatalla prolifera), via the gradual fusing of the base of three of the bracteoles (Spatalla salsoloides to Spatalla parilis), to the fusing of the upper two-thirds of the three bracteoles (Spatalla barbigera to Spatalla racemosa), to all four bracteoles fused together with one bracteole smaller than the others (Spatalla ericoides and Spatalla squamata), and, finally, in Spatalla mollis only three fused bracteoles remain.
The Unispoons are restricted geographically to south of the Breede River in the west and, with the exception of Spatalla barbigera on the Swartberg, south of the Little Karoo in the east.
Key to groups in section Spatalla:
1. Perianth lobes unequal, upper perianth segment boat-shaped. Pollen presenter an oblique, obovate helmet-shaped disc. goto 2
1' Perianth lobes equal. Pollen presenter cylindric or ovoid to pin-headed. Spatalla setacea, nubicola, salsoloides
2. Inflorescence sessile, leaves needle-shaped, without groove on upper surface goto 3
2' Inflorescence with a 10-70 mm long stalk. Leaves needle-shaped, with a slight groove (X10 lens!) on the upper surface. Spatalla longifolia, curvifolia, racemosa
3' Style hairless, involucre of four bracteoles goto 4
3. Style hairy, involucre of three fused bracteoles. Spatalla mollis
4. Involucre sessile Spatalla prolifera, squamata, ericoides
4' Involucre with a 1-3 mm long stalk Spatalla colorata, barbigera, parilis
Spatalla prolifera PALMIET UNISPOON
Spatalla salsoloides KINK-STYLE UNISPOON
Spatalla setacea NEEDLE-LEAF UNISPOON
Spatalla nubicola MEDUSA UNISPOON
Spatalla parilis SPIKE UNISPOON
Spatalla barbigera FINE-LEAF UNISPOON
Spatalla colorata SHINY UNISPOON
Spatalla squamata SILKY UNISPOON
Spatalla ericoides ERICOID UNISPOON
Spatalla longifolia PINK STALKED-UNISPOON
Spatalla curvifolia WHITE STALKED-UNISPOON
Spatalla racemosa LAX STALKED-UNISPOON
Spatalla mollis WOOLLY UNISPOON