Acaena echinata Nees

Sheep's Burr

in Lehm., Pl. Preiss. 1: 95 (1844) APNI

Taxonomic status:Accepted

Occurrence status:Present

Establishment means:Native

Erect or ascending perennial herb 25–40(–70) cm high; branches glabrous to sparsely appressed-pilose. Leaves 9–21-foliolate, narrowly obovate to oblanceolate, mostly 8–15 cm long; leaflets ovate to oblong, the largest 4–23 mm long, 3–13 mm wide, margins deeply lobed or serrate, flat or recurved, upper surface glabrous or sparsely pilose, lower surface sparsely pilose, mostly on veins and margins; stipules linear to triangular, 1–6 mm long. Inflorescence an interrupted cylindric spike, occasionally branched; peduncles glabrescent to sparsely pilose; sepals 4–6, usually 5; stamens 2–8, dark purple; style 1, rarely 2. Fruiting hypanthia ovoid or with longitudinal ridges formed by the concrescence of spine bases, glabrous or pilose; spines unequal, 3–8 mostly near apex 2–5 mm long, 8–30 mostly lower down 0.5–2 mm long. Flowers and fruits Aug.–Apr.

CVU, DunT, EGL, EGU, GipP, Glep, Gold, GGr, HNF, HSF, LoM, MonT, MuM, NIS, OtP, OtR, SnM, Strz, VAlp, VRiv, VVP, WaP, Wim. Also WA (?introduced), SA, Qld, NSW, Tas. Except for the far north-west and wetter forest areas, widespread across much of the State.

Orchard (1969) recognized 5 varieties-var. echinata (glabrous fruit, short stamens, small stipules), var. robusta (glabrous fruit, long stamens, large stipules), var. subglabricalyx (pilose fruit with slender spines), var. retrorsumpilosa (pilose fruit with basally thickened spines, short stamens, small stipules) and var. tylacantha (pilose fruit with basally thickened spines, long stamens, large stipules). All 5 of these have been recorded for Victoria and intermediates often occur. In the absence of mature fruits, the 5 varieties are difficult to determine with any degree of confidence.

Apparently Acaena echinata hybridises with A. agnipila to form Acaena ×ovina (Orchard 2018).

Source: Jeanes, J.A.; Jobson, P.C. (1996). Rosaceae. In: Walsh, N.G.; Entwisle, T.J. (eds), Flora of Victoria Vol. 3, Dicotyledons Winteraceae to Myrtaceae. Inkata Press, Melbourne.
Updated by: Val Stajsic, 2018-06-14

Orchard, A.E. (1969). Revision of the Acaena ovina A.Cunn. (Rosaceae) complex in Australia., Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 93: 91-109.

Orchard, A.E. (2018). How many spicate species of Acaena are there in Australia?, Australian Systematic Botany Society Newsletter 174: 12-14.

Hero image
Distribution map
life Life
kingdom Plantae
phylum Tracheophyta
superorder Rosanae
order Rosales
family Rosaceae
genus Acaena
Higher taxa


Source: AVH (2014). Australia's Virtual Herbarium, Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, <>. Find Acaena echinata in AVH ; Victorian Biodiversity Atlas, © The State of Victoria, Department of Environment and Primary Industries (published Dec. 2014) Find Acaena echinata in Victorian Biodiversity Atlas
  Bioregion Occurrence status Establishment means
Lowan Mallee present native
Murray Mallee present native
Wimmera present native
Glenelg Plain present native
Victorian Volcanic Plain present native
Victorian Riverina present native
Gippsland Plain present native
Otway Plain present native
Warrnambool Plain present native
Goldfields present native
Central Victorian Uplands present native
Greater Grampians present native
Dundas Tablelands present native
Northern Inland Slopes present native
East Gippsland Lowlands present native
East Gippsland Uplands present native
Highlands-Southern Fall present native
Highlands-Northern Fall present native
Otway Ranges present native
Strzelecki Ranges present native
Monaro Tablelands present native
Victorian Alps present native
Snowy Mountains present native

State distribution

Distribution map
Western Australia
South Australia
New South Wales
Australian Capital Territory