Annual or perennial herbs or subshrubs, sometimes stoloniferous. Leaves in basal rosettes and/or cauline and alternate, sessile, entire to bipinnatisect, glabrous, with glandular or fine, flattened or stiff, clear eglandular hairs. Capitula solitary, radiate, heterogamous; involucral bracts in 1 or 2 rows of about equal length or in 2 distinct rows of unequal length, mainly herbaceous but with scarious margins; receptacle convex to conical or globose; ray florets female, white, greenish-white, mauve, pink or yellow; disc florets bisexual, (4- or) 5-lobed, yellow; anthers with or without a terminal sterile appendage, not tailed; style branches widely deltoid to narrowly triangular in outline, c. 0.5–4 times the length of the stigmatic part. Cypselas homomorphic or dimorphic, terete, angular or flattened, with or without longitudinal ridges and/or wings, smooth to variously tuberculate, biseriate eglandular hairs and/or stalked glandular hairs sometimes present; pappus absent or a short crown of bristles or scale-like bristles. (Description based on Victorian species only.)
Currently 87 species, mostly Australian, a few native in New Guinea and New Zealand. Delimitation of the genus is problematic, with herbaceous species lacking a pappus or having only a short crown of bristles or bristle-like scales being included in Brachyscome without consideration of the considerable variation exhibited in habit, leaf shape and the morphology and anatomy of the cypselas and is almost certainly non-monophyletic. Consequently, segregate genera should be recognized.
To better indicate possible species relationships within Brachyscome s. lat. several species groups are described and their constituent Victorian taxa listed below.
Brachyscome aculeata group
Perennial, stoloniferous (or mostly so) herbs. Leaves basal and cauline, broad, lobed. Ligules white or bluish. Terminal anther appendages present. Cypselas homomorphic, thin; lateral faces without longitudinal ridges; eglandular hairs biseriate and straight to curved; margins wing-like.
Brachyscome basaltica group
Stoloniferous perennial or non-stoloniferous annual herbs. Leaves entire or rarely with several teeth. Terminal anther appendages present. Cypselas homomorphic, swollen or somewhat laterally compressed; lateral faces with or without longitudinal ridges; margins unwinged; pappus usually an entire ring.
Brachyscome ciliaris group
Annuals or non-stoloniferous perennials. Leaves basal and cauline, entire or 1- or 2-pinnatisect or -pinnatifid. Ligules white, pale greenish-white or mauve. Terminal anther appendages absent or barely developed. Cypselas homomorphic or dimorphic with ray cypselas mostly with broad margins and disc cypselas thin and with wing-like extensions; longitudinal ridges usually absent (not present in Victorian species); eglandular hairs usually apically inrolled short and sometimes curved.
Brachyscome decipiens group
Scapose perennials. Leaves broad, entire or partly serrate. Bracts biseriate, unequal. Terminal anther appendages present. Cypselas homomorphic, smooth, flat; longitudinal ridges absent; margins not wing-like; eglandular hairs weak and shortly bifid.
Brachyscome dentata group
Annual or perennial, non-stoloniferous herbs. Leaves basal and cauline. Ligules yellow, at least in bud or at base, mature white rays often drying yellow. Terminal anther appendages present. Cypselas homomorphic or dimorphic in B. debilis, thin, flat to incurved; longitudinal ridges absent; margins winged and unwinged in B. debilis; eglandular hairs apically curled eglandular hairs. Pappus a short crown.
Brachyscome iberidifolia group
Annual herbs. Terminal anther appendages absent. Cypselas homomorphic or somewhat dimorphic, ovoid, club-shaped or wedge-shaped, minutely papillate; lateral faces somewhat concave; eglandular biseriate hairs with straight or curled apices; margins usually swelling at the apex.
Brachyscome lineariloba group
Annual herbs. Terminal anther appendages present. Cypselas homomorphic; lateral faces consisting of a single, swollen, entire ridge; eglandular hairs apically curled.
Brachyscome muelleri group
Annual or short-lived perennial herbs. Terminal anther appendages present. Cypselas homomorphic; lateral faces with 2 or 4 non-swollen longitudinal ridges; wings prominent, slightly to manifestly incurved.
Brachyscome multifida group
Woody-based herbs or subshrubs. Leaves 1 or 2-pinnatifid. Terminal anther appendages present. Cypselas homomorphic, brownish black or black, beset with tubercles and short, weak, often bifid hairs; pappus a short crown.
Brachyscome nivalis group
Stoloniferous, scapiform perennials. Leaves mostly basal, entire or lobed. Ligules white or mauve. Terminal anther appendages present. Cypselas homomorphic, laterally compressed; lateral faces with longitudinal ridges demarcating wings from the fruit body; eglandular hairs absent or short, curved or apically slightly inrolled.
Brachyscome triloba group
Perennial, stoloniferous herbs. Leaves mostly obovate, toothed or lobed. Terminal anther appendages present. Cypselas homomorphic, laterally compressed; lateral faces with 2 near-marginal longitudinal ridges; wings present or absent; eglandular biseriate hairs straight, curving throughout their length or apically curved to very slightly curled.
Annual or perennial herbs. Terminal anther appendages present. Cypselas predominantly homomorphic, curved along its length; lateral faces with 2 mostly swollen ridges, tuberculate between ridges. Pappus bristles erect or spreading.
Stoloniferous, scapiform perennial herbs. Terminal anther appendages present. Cypselas homomorphic, somewhat flattened; lateral faces without longitudinal ridges and tubercles, often smooth and glabrous but some species with scattered but often prominent glandular hairs; margins not rib-like.
The generic name has often been spelt ‘Brachycome’ but the original spelling is recommended (Brummitt 1993).
Short, P.S. (2014). A taxonomic review of Brachyscome Cass. s.lat. (Asteraceae: Astereae)., Journal of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens 28: 1–219.