Frankenia serpyllifolia Lindl.

Bristly Sea-heath

in T.Mitch., J. Exped. Trop. Australia 305 (1848) APNI

Taxonomic status:Accepted

Occurrence status:Present

Establishment means:Native

Threat status:Victoria: rare (r)

Low, densely branched sprawling to erect shrub; branches sparsely to densely covered in spreading to uncinate hairs c. 0.1–0.5 or more (longer on plants with glabrous leaves), or rarely glabrous; internodes 5–32 mm long. Leaves on long-shoot 3–13 mm long; petiole 0.4–2.7 mm long, tapered distally where 0.3–0.8(–1.2) mm wide, ciliate; leaf-blade elliptic, oblong, obovate or ovate, 1–8 mm wide, coriaceous; flat or with margins loosely to tightly revolute; midrib inconspicuous or prominent, linear to flat; surfaces greyish yellow-green, glabrous to densely covered in spreading to uncinate hairs; short-shoot leaves similar. Flowers 1–19 in terminal or axillary dichasia, or solitary. Calyx 5-lobed, 4–10 mm long, 1–2 mm wide, glabrous to densely hairy; petals (4–)5, 6–15 mm long; stamens 6; style-branches 2 or 3; ovules usually 2 or 3. Flowers most of year.

LoM, MuM, MSB, OtP, OtR, RobP, Wim. Also NT, SA, Qld, NSW. Restricted to salt lake verges in the north-west, north of Dimboola area.

A variable species, particularly in regard to hairiness and the marginal curvature of leaves. Two major variants can be distinguished: one with glabrous leaves and usually longer but dense stem-hairs (= Frankenia sp. aff. gracilis sensu Willis 1973), the other with densely hairy leaves and generally shorter stem-hairs (= F. angustipetala). Whalen (1986) considered such variants to be insufficiently distinct over the range of the species and not warranting taxonomic recognition. The glabrous-leaved variant can be difficult to distinguish from F. pauciflora but the stem-hairs are longer (c. 0.5 mm or more) in F. serpyllifolia.

Source: Entwisle, T.J. (1996). Frankeniaceae. In: Walsh, N.G.; Entwisle, T.J. (eds), Flora of Victoria Vol. 3, Dicotyledons Winteraceae to Myrtaceae. Inkata Press, Melbourne.
Updated by: Neville Walsh, 2019-04-02

Whalen, M.A. (1986). 'Frankeniaceae' in J.P. Jessop & H.R. Toelken (eds), Flora of South Australia 2: 873-881.

Willis, J.H. (1973). A handbook to plants in Victoria, Melbourne University Press, Carlton.

Hero image
Distribution map
life Life
kingdom Plantae
phylum Tracheophyta
superorder Caryophyllanae
family Frankeniaceae
genus Frankenia
Higher taxa


Source: AVH (2014). Australia's Virtual Herbarium, Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, <>. Find Frankenia serpyllifolia in AVH ; Victorian Biodiversity Atlas, © The State of Victoria, Department of Environment and Primary Industries (published Dec. 2014) Find Frankenia serpyllifolia in Victorian Biodiversity Atlas
  Bioregion Occurrence status Establishment means
Lowan Mallee present native
Murray Mallee present native
Wimmera present native
Murray Scroll Belt present native
Robinvale Plains present native
Otway Plain present native
Otway Ranges present native

State distribution

Distribution map
Western Australia
Northern Territory
South Australia
New South Wales