Sand Potato Bush
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Sand Potato Bush
P Native Photo: M. Rajkumar
Common name: Sand Potato Bush, Lebombo potato-bush, Mopane potato bush
Botanical name: Phyllanthus pinnatus    Family: Phyllanthaceae (Amla family)
Synonyms: Phyllanthus senensis, Phyllanthus kirkianus

Sand Potato Bush is a bushy shrub, 1-1.5 m tall, or a small tree up to 4 m tall, entirely hairless. Main branches are rough with stipule-scars and reduced scaly leaves; leaf-bearing branchlets fascicled, 4-7 mm long, few-leaved, often deciduous. Leaves are elliptic, ovate-elliptic, curved oblong-elliptic to round or obovate, obliquely wedge-shaped, pointed, blunt to rounded at base, pointed, rounded or blunt and apiculate at tip, 5-23 x 4-17 mm, membranous, hairless, pale glaucous beneath; leaf-stalks 1-3 mm long. Flowers are borne directly on older branches, unisexual, in many-flowered glomerules, often stalked. Male flowers occur at proximal axils; flower-stalks 3-9 mm long, thread-like; sepals 3 + 3, obovate, ovate or round, 0.6-1.2 x 0.4-1 mm; disc annular, about 0.5 mm across, 6-lobed; stamens 6, protruding; filaments 1.5-2.8 mm long, free, thread-like. Female flowers occur at distal axils; flower-stalks 8-37 mm long, thread-like; sepals 6, broadly ovate to elliptic, 2-2.2 x 1.6-1.8 mm, scarious along margins; disc subentire to 6-lobed, about 2 mm across, flat. Fruits are nearly spherical, 6-8 x 10-11 mm, 3-lobed, crustaceous, wrinkled, with longitudinal nervation. Sand Potato Bush is found in Semideciduous and scrub forests, up to 1000 m, common, in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka and East Africa. Flowering: February-October.

Identification credit: M. Rajkumar Photographed in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu.

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