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Microseris lanceolata facts for kids

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Microseris lanceolata
Scientific classification
M. lanceolata
Binomial name
Microseris lanceolata
(Walp.) Sch.Bip.
  • Galasia lanoeolata Sch.Bip.
  • Galasia scapigera Sch.Bip.
  • Krigia chilensis Nees
  • Krigia pinnatifida Bertero ex DC.
  • Krigia pusilla DC.
  • Microseris pygmaea Raoul nom. illeg.
  • Phyllopappus lanceolatus Walp.

Microseris lanceolata is an Australian alpine herb with yellow flowers and one of three plants known as murnong or yam daisy along with Microseris scapigera and Microseris walteri.

The plant is found in southern parts of Australia, including Victoria, NSW and ACT. In Victoria, the plant is confined to alpine and subalpine herbfields of the eastern ranges, and often locally plentiful. Microseris walteri and Microseris scapigera are found in a greater number of locations than Microseris lanceolata.

Botanical naming

For more than 30 years Murnong was named as Microseris sp. or Microseris lanceolata or Microseris scapigera. Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria botanist Neville Walsh clarified the botanical name of Microseris walteri in 2016 and defined the differences in the three species in the table below.

Feature M. walteri M. lanceolata M. scapigera
Roots single fleshy root expanding to a solitary, napiform to narrow-ellipsoid or narrow-ovoid, annually replaced tuber several fleshy roots, cylindrical to long-tapered, branching just below ground-level several cylindrical or long-tapered, usually branched shortly below leaves
Fruit (Capsela) usually less than 7mm long usually less than 7mm long mostly 7–10 mm long
Pappus bristles c. 10 mm long, 0.5–1.3mm wide at base 10–20 mm long, c. 0.3–0.5 mm wide at base 30–66 mm long
Joined petals (Ligule) usually more than 15mm long usually more than 15mm long up to 12mm long
Origin lowlands of temperate southern WA, SA, NSW, ACT, Victoria and Tasmania rarely on basalt soils; alpine and subalpine NSW, ACT and Victoria mostly from basalt plains of western Victoria and elevated sites in Tasmania
Taste of roots sweet-tasting, both raw and cooked bitter, slightly fibrous and not particularly palatable slightly fibrous, and slightly, but tolerably bitter

Biological descriptions

Microseris lanceolata has the form of a tufted rosette of toothed lanceolate leaves.

The flower is a yellow head of florets, similar to flatweed (Hypochaeris radicata) or dandelion (Taraxacum). In its natural alpine and subalpine environment, the flower begins to blossom in December when the temperature reaches about 20C. The flower stalk is pendulous before flowering, becoming erect for flowering to attract pollinators and again with the ripening of the seed head. The seed heads ripen to a cluster of fluffy, tan achenes, each having a crown of fine extensions called a pappus. The seeds are dispersed by wind.

The plant has several fleshy roots branching just below ground level, rather than a tuber like Microseris walteri.

Cultivation and uses

The edible tuberous roots of murnong plants were an important source of food for some Aboriginal Australian peoples. However, the descriptions of murnong are more closely aligned with Microseris walteri. To add to the confusion, commercial nurseries will commonly mislabel a Microseris scapigera plant as Microseris lanceolata.


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