Vittadinia cuneata is a small woody annual or perennial herb reaching a height of about 30 centimetres. It does not really form a groundcover but is a species forming part of the groundlayer. They can be multi to single stemmed plants, usually with multiple stems coming off a central basal stem; somewhat rough to the touch due to hairs.
It has a large natural distribution across Australia; virtually found across the whole of NSW (not overly common in the Nort Coast botanical subdivision where it is rarely found); it grows over most of Victoria (similarly – not very common along the south coast stretch); it is found in the central eastern part of Tasmania; it grows generally in the larger south-east quarter of South Australia, east to Elliston and north to near Mt Nor’ West Station; it has been recorded sporadically in Queensland, mainly around the Towoomba-area, west near Cunnamulla and as far north as Gloucester Island. It is also found in the central areas of the Northern Territory.
The species has a number of formal varieties described.
It is typically found in open dry sclerophyll woodland as well as paddocks and grasslands; including road verges and regenerating areas. It can be found in countless thousands in some patches, especially after rain events.
Vittadinia spp. have simple and alternate leaves, treated as cauline leaves (on flowering stems). In this species, leaves are wedge-shaped (cuneate) or oblanceolate, to 25 mm long and 5 mm wide, almost entire but generally with 2 small lateral lobes, hairy; dull green to blue-green / grey-green in colour.
Vittadinia spp. are in the daisy family and therefore produce flowers in an inflorescence called a capitulum (often referred to as a ‘head’). This is an evolved structure where a large number of modified flowers (florets) are grouped together to look like one flower. The Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) would be the most grandiose example. The ‘petals’ of the capitula are actually ‘ray florets’ which contain a floret hidden inside the elongated ‘petal’ which is actually an extended limb of the corolla tube called a ligule. The disc in the middle of the capitulum (often yellow or orange in colour) consists of very small ‘disc florets’ which have a small 3-5 lobed corolla tube with stamens and a carpel. In this genus, the capitula appear very similar to those of Brachyscome, in that they generally have a yellow disc surrounded by purple-mauve-blue or sometimes white ray florets.
In this species, the capitula are typically produced solitarily at the stem terminals; with pale mauve to blue ray florets surrounding the yellow disc florets, to about 1 cm wide; typically in spring and summer.
The fruit is an achene. In this species, they are oblanceolate to linear, to 7 mm long and have a pappus (almost a parachute) or hairs at the apex. The dense production of the seeds heads after flowering gives thes plants their common name.
This is not a plant known to be cultivated and falls into the bucket of looking like a groundlayer weed such as fleabane or similar. But, it is a species that will persist in modified bushland gardens and bushland blocks, especially in inland areas.
Both flowers and particularly the seed heads are attractive features.
Fuzzweed would need to be planted en masse to make an impression. Rockeries and native cottage gardens would benefit from mass planting of Fuzzweed.
Fuzzweed is one of a number of herbaceous species native to our property Yallaroo near Armidale and is common in our grassy areas. We mow a large area in front of our house and this has allowed Vittadinia cuneata to proliferate and the species has formed dense carpets.
Propagate from seed.
This species would proliferate from seed, likely in large numbers after fire.
NSW currently recognises 3 formal varieties of this species:
Vittadinia is a genus of about 30 species, occurring in Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia and New Guinea. About 27 species occur in Australia, almost all are endemic. NSW currently has 14 species. They can be difficult to identify from one another and usually a close study of the achenes is needed along with leaf characteristics.
Vittadinia – commemorates Carlo Vittadini (1800-1865) an Italian doctor and mycologist who published many species of Italian mushrooms and who worked on silkworms. Along with this, he was an obstetrician.
cuneata – Latin – having cuneate leaves (wedge-shaped – wider at the apex).
This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.
NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Vittadinia cuneata profile page https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Vittadinia~cuneata
Plants and Fungi of South-Western NSW – LUCID Online Website/App – Vittadinia cuneata profile page https://keys.lucidcentral.org/keys/v3/scotia/key/Plants%20and%20Fungi%20of%20south%20western%20NSW/Media/Html/Vittadinia_cuneata.htm