T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Paronychia brasiliana (Brazilian whitlow)

Kingdom: Plantae
Superphylum: Tracheophyta
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Caryophyllaceae
Genus: Paronychia
Species: P. brasiliana
Binomial name: Paronychia brasiliana
Synonyms: Paronychia punctoria, Paronychia bonariensis, Illecebrum brasilianum
Common name: Brazilian whitlow, Chilean Whitlow Wort

Paronychia brasiliana is a prostrate, tap rooted, perennial, ruderal species of herb native to South Brazil, Uruguay, N.E. Argentina. It is a troublesome weed in lawns and pastures, chiefly in poorly maintained ground with sandy soils. It can also be found around the margins of muddy pools that dry out in summer. In New Zealand it is found in coastal North Island but only one specimen has been reported growing in an open ruderal environment at Motueka, South Island. It piece of land is a parking area for motorhomes, so it was possibly introduced by them. 

The plants has branched, prostate stems which are scabrous to finely hairy and they are often knotted and rather woody. The hairy, greenish brown leaves are linear to elliptic or obovate (narrower end at the base) 3–8 mm long, 1–2 mm wide, hairy and awned. 
P. brasiliana has very small green, flower like structures that have no petals but have five stamens, 5 oblong sepals which are 1–2 mm long and are glabrous, reddish and end in awns 0.5–1 mm long. A single seeded fruit is produced.