Description: Small tufted annual or cushion-forming perennial herbs.
Leaves linear, innermost usually reduced to a short membranous glabrous sheath.
Scapes erect and leafless or scape absent; inflorescence a terminal cymose head enclosed by 2 primary bracts; bracts with dilated sheathing bases, unequal, glume-like; each bract enclosing 1–numerous pseudanthia; pseudanthia each consisting of 1–30 ± fused female flowers superimposed in 1 or 2 rows, styles usually fused at base, usually with 1 male flower at base; secondary bracts 2 or 3 per pseudanthium or absent, veinless, hyaline or scarious.
Infructescence compound, dry, membranous; each follicle 1-seeded, dehiscing by an outer slit; seed ovoid to fusiform.
Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 25 spp., Aust., N.Z., Malesia. Aust.: 20 spp. (19 spp. endemic), all States.
Treatment based on Cooke (1992).
Text by E. A. Brown
| ||Key to the species|| |
|1||Multicellular hairs present on leaves, at least near the base||2|
|Multicellular hairs absent (plants completely glabrous or rarely with scattered microscopic papillae)||3|
|2||Perennial; primary bracts with sheath tapering to leaf-like apex c. 2 mm long; each pseudanthium with 2–4 female flowers||Centrolepis fascicularis|
|Annual; primary bracts with sheath abruptly contracted into a mucro c. 0.5 mm long; each pseudanthium with 4–7 female flowers|
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|3||Leaves distichous; both bracts of the head with long leaf-like laminas||Centrolepis aristata|
|Leaves not distichous; only outer bract with a leaf-like lamina|
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|4||Pseudanthia 1–3 per head||Centrolepis polygyna|
|Pseudanthia usually 4–10 per head (rarely 3)|
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|5||Leaf lamina straight, lax; bract lamina no longer than the head; plant softly herbaceous||Centrolepis glabra|
|Leaf lamina recurved, rigid; bract lamina longer than the head; leaves wiry; bract bases hardened|
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