Protea Atlas Logo
  Overview of Project
  Project Staff
  Checking, Illustrations
  Upcoming Activities
  Id and  Species Lists
  Protea Information
  Protea Gallery
  Growing Proteas
  Interim Dist. Maps
  Afrikaanse Inligting


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

Section CYRTOSTIGMA: The Triplespoons

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:

  • Pollen presenter helmet shaped and perianth segments unequal. (Spatalla argentea and propinqua).
  • Pollen presenter ovoid with style bent at right angles near tip (remaining species). Of these only Spatalla incurva has the perianth segments unequal.

A low, much branched, rounded shrub. Leaves flattened or slightly concave on upper surface, margins with long hairs. Inflorescence 10-20 mm diam., globose to spherical.

Erect shrub with long, erect straight stems. Leaves sparsely haired on upper surface. Inflorescences long: 50-60 mm long (occasionally 70 mm), a cylindric raceme. Perianth densely woolly to shaggy-haired.

A low spreading, creeping to sub-erect shrub. Leaves hairless when mature. Inflorescence short: 10-25 mm long. Bracteoles hairless. Perianth thinly haired on claws, tube 4-5 mm long.

Spatalla thyrsiflora SWAN-NECK TRIPLESPOON
A sprawling shrub with a rootstock and stems trailing to form mats. Involucres 3 flowered. Bracteoles subtending a bifurcating shoot. Style arched like a swans neck. Pollen presenter conic ovoid, black.

Branches densely crispy hairy. Leaves needle-shaped, mucronate. Style straight at base, curved at right angles distally. Pollen presenter obliquely-obovoid. Fruit hairy.

Leaves silvery, densely downy haired. Perianth one segment large and helmet-shaped. Pollen presenter obliquely obovate, ear-like disc, black.

Spatalla propinqua LAX TRIPLESPOON
Inflorescence narrowly cylindric to conic, long and slender: 10-30 mm long, 10 mm wide. Perianth segments one larger and helmet-shaped, tube shaggy-haired. Pollen presenter an obliquely obovate, ear-like disc, dark. Fruits hairless or minutely hairy at base.

Section SPATALLA: The Unispoons

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
Inflorescence sessile. Involucres sessile. Bracteoles free, linear-lanceolate.

Spatalla salsoloides KINK-STYLE UNISPOON
Spreading prostrate stems bearing ascending brancheSpatalla Pollen presenter cylindric-ellipsoid, knee-jointed at junction to style.

Leaves 20-30 mm long. Inflorescence globose to ovoid, a densely congested raceme. Perianth inflated at base. Pollen presenter cylindric-ellipsoid.

Spatalla nubicola MEDUSA UNISPOON
Inflorescence a densely flowered raceme, sessile. Involucre sessile. Pollen presenter oblique, ovoid-pin-shaped.

Spatalla parilis SPIKE UNISPOON
Inflorescence sessile. Involucres with a 2-3 mm long stalk. Bracteoles narrowly lanceolate acuminate.

Spatalla barbigera FINE-LEAF UNISPOON
Leaves with permanent downy hairSpatalla Involucre 1 flowered, stalk 0-1 mm long. Bracteoles lanceolate acute, downy haired. Perianth creamy yellow.

Spatalla colorata SHINY UNISPOON
Inflorescence small: up to 15 mm long, 10 mm broad. Involucres 1 flowered, hairless, red to carmine, shiny. Bracteoles 3-4 mm long, lanceolate acute, hairless.

Spatalla squamata SILKY UNISPOON
Inflorescence sessile. Involucres sessile. Bracteoles hairless. After flowering bracteoles enlarge greatly and turn carmine, persistent through summer. Perianth inner surface of claws densely crispy hairy.

Spatalla ericoides ERICOID UNISPOON
Inflorescence sessile. Involucre sessile. Bracteoles thickly silky haired, red to carmine, not enlarging after flowering. Perianth sparsely covered with crispy hairs.

Spatalla longifolia PINK STALKED-UNISPOON
Leaves 25-45 mm long, needle-shaped, upper surface channelled. Inflorescence with a 20-30 mm long stalk. Bracts needle-shaped, 8-15 mm long. Bracteoles lanceolate, 3 mm long, three fused in lower third. Perianth claws carmine and swollen on inner surface.

Spatalla curvifolia WHITE STALKED-UNISPOON
Leaves 25-50 mm long, needle-shaped, upper surface channelled, narrowing to a slender stalk. Inflorescence with a 10-70 mm long stalk. Bracts needlelike, 2-11 mm long. Bracteoles three entirely fused, one fused at base only. Perianth one helmet-like, others with red fleshy swellings at base of claws.

Spatalla racemosa LAX STALKED-UNISPOON
Inflorescence small, 10-30 mm long, a lax cylindric raceme. Bracts awl-shaped, 1-2 mm long. Bracteoles three fused for lower two-thirdSpatalla Fruit 7 mm long, narrowly cylindrical, visibly protruding beyond non-swollen bracteoles.

Spatalla mollis WOOLLY UNISPOON
Bracteoles three in number, two fused on lower half to form a lip. Style hairy on lower third.

Back Keys