Skip to main content

The journal of the Western Australian Herbarium

The type of Acacia aneura (Mulga) and ambiguities concerning the application of this name

Acacia aneura F.Muell. ex Benth. is a member of a large, taxonomically complex group of plants that are very common in the Australian arid zone. In order to help determine the application of this name the type collection of A. aneura at the National Herbarium of Victoria (MEL) is reassessed after visits to the type locality. This collection comprises rather fragmentary specimens mounted on three sheets (MEL 724215, 724218 and 724219), each labelled as having been collected [in 1851] by Ferdinand von Mueller from ‘Cudnaka’. This locality is now known as Kanyaka, located in the South Flinders Ranges, South Australia, between Quorn and Hawker. The holotype is confirmed as the depauperate fruiting specimen on MEL 724218. The fertile specimen on MEL 724219 is confirmed as belonging to a Mulga taxon of uncertain status and is not a type. The sterile specimen on MEL 724215 and the sterile specimens on MEL 724219 may or may not be types, but their status cannot be determined with any certainty. The populations at Kanyaka that Mueller presumably visited were sampled by the authors in 2007, 2008 and 2010. Subsequent study showed there to be two distinct Mulga morphotypes in these populations. One morphotype corresponds to the type of A. aneura but the status of the second morphotype is uncertain. The latter does not match the fertile specimen on MEL 724219 and appears not to have been collected by Mueller; it may possibly represent a hitherto undescribed species. The taxonomic status of the first morphotype, and hence the application of the name A. aneura, is currently uncertain. Further field, morphological and genetic studies, especially of South Australian populations, are needed to resolve the application of the name A. aneura and also to establish the status of the second morphotype collected from the type locality.