Sand Potato Bush   
Foto info
Sand Potato Bush
P Native Photo: P.S. Sivaprasad
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, sickle shapedly 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; lateral nerves 5 or 6 pairs, forked near margins; leaf-stalks 1-3 mm long, hairy; stipules linear, subulate, about 2 mm long, scarious, deciduous. Inflorescences ramiflorous, unisexual; glomerules many-flowered, often stalked; bracts clustered, oblong, obovate-oblong, flabellate or round, 1-2 x 1-1.3 mm. Male flowers: 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, fringed-toothed at tip, thin; disc annular, about 0.5 mm across, 6-lobed; stamens 6, protruding; filaments 1.5-2.8 mm long, free, thread-like; anthers oblong, 0.5-0.8 mm long, longitudinally dehiscent. Female flowers: 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; ovary spherical, about 1.8 mm in diameter, shortly stipitate; styles 3, very shortly fused at base, almost free and bifid to base, 1.8 - 2.2 mm long. Fruits are nearly spherical, 6-8 x 10-11 mm, 3-lobed, crustaceous, wrinkled, with longitudinal nervation; seeds spherical, plano-convex, about 3 x 2.5 mm, orange brown. 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: P.S. Sivaprasad Photographed in BSI Botanical Garden, Yercaud, Tamil Nadu.

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