Natural populations

Maireana microphylla is found in the drier areas throughout south-easternQueensland and eastern New South Wales. It is a common coloniser in disturbed lands, on poor soils and sometimes occurs in dense stands [17]. This species is variable both in vegetative and fruit morphology [30, 42]. There is the common form with small hairy leaves and winged seeds in New South Wales, and there is also a form with slender leaves in eastern Queensland and a form in various parts of NSW with glabrous leaves [30]. A papery wing around the seed does not always develop, particularly in Victorian plants [16], and the plant then resembles a species of Enchylaena [42]. In Victoria, it is only known from three sites (on border with NSW), in small vegetation remnants on heavy loamy soils [16]. The plants in the Sydney area are introduced [30].

Flowering and seeds

Flowers are present in spring to autumn and fruits in summer to autumn [14]; a prolific seeder. When propagating, seed is soaked in slightly salty water and sown into slightly salty potting mix, with germinates appearing quickly in 2-3 weeks [1].

Cultivation and uses

It is very good pioneer species for eroded, degraded sites and has high wildlife value [1]. It is rarely grazed by stock [17].

Key descriptors:
Climate parameters
Mean annual rainfall: 450-950 mm
Rainfall distribution pattern: summer, uniform or winter
Mean annual temperature: 11-26 °C
Mean max. temperature of the hottest month: 27-34 °C
Mean min. temperature of the coldest month: 1-8 °C
Frosts (approx. no. per year): 3. greater than 20
Frost intensity: light to moderate (0 to -5°C)
Altitude: 100-800 metres
Tolerance of extremes in climate
Drought: known to be moderately drought tolerant
Frost: tolerates frosts in the 0° to -5°C range
Soil factors
Texture: clay loam, cracking clays, light to medium clay (35-50% clay) or loam, sandy loam, sandy clay loam
Soil depth: moderate to deep (30-100 cm or greater)
Salinity: slightly to moderately saline
Biological traits under cultivation
Habit: evergreen shrub less than 2 m tall
Longevity: short-lived less than 15 years
Root system: shallow and spreading


[1] Carr D (1997) Plants in Your Pants: a pocket guide for the identification and use of the common plants of the northwest slopes. Greening Australia NSW, Armidale.

[16] Walsh NG, Entwisle TJ (1994 - 1999) Flora of Victoria. Volume 2 - 4, Inkata Press, Melbourne.

[17] Cunningham GM, Mulham WE, Milthorpe PL, Leigh JH (1992) Plants of western New South Wales. Inkata Press, Port Melbourne, Victoria.

[30] Wilson P (1975) A Taxonomic Revision of the genus Maireana (Chenopodiaceae). Nuytsia 2 (1): 47.

[42] Wilson, P.G. in George, A.S. (Ed) (1984) Flora of Australia 4: 207, CSIRO Publishing and the Australian Biological Resources Study, Canberra.

Internet links

FloraBase NSW Flora Online – species description & distribution: