Aerva velutina Moq.
Perennial herb, frequently woody and suffrutescent below, prostrate to erect or frequently ± scrambling, 0.4-1-(2) m, branched from the base and usually also above, upper branches commonly long and slender. Stem and branches terete, striate, densely tomentose or canescent with whitish or yellowish, appressed or patent hairs (the lowest internodes sometimes ± glabrescent). Leaves and branches mostly alternate, the lower not rarely and all occasionally opposite; leaves broadly to narrowly ellipitic or elliptic-lanceolate or elliptic-ovate, cuneate to attenuate at the base, acute to acuminate at the apex, densely whitish-canescent on both surfaces (rarely green and only thinly hairy), those of the main stem below the inflorescence c. 1.5-18 x 0.8-6 cm, petiole up to 2 cm long; branch and inflorescence leaves gradually reducing. Spikes sessile (or pedunculate by reduction of branches), forming a lax raceme or terminal panicle, the lower axillary but the upper without subtending leaves, 0.5-8 x 0.4-0.6 cm, cylindrical (conical when young), silky, white to pale pink or pale brown; bracts 1-1.5 mm, deltoid-ovate, membranous with an excurrent yellowish midrib, thinly pilose, persistent; bracteoles similar to slightly smaller, also persistent. Flowers hermaphrodite or hermaphrodite and female. Outer 2 tepals hyaline, elliptic-oblong, tapering above with a distinct mucro formed by the excurrent midrib, 1.75-2.25 mm without the mucro; inner slightly shorter and narrower, acute, hyaline with a narrow central green vitta along the midrib, the vitta bordered by two fine lateral nerves and extending for about two-thirds of the length of each tepal; all tepals densely lanate dorsally. Sta¬mens delicate, at anthesis attaining about half the length of the style. Style and two short, divergent stigmas subequalling the ovary in length at anthesis. Capsule c. 1 mm. rotund, compressed. Seed 0.8-1 mm. reniform, black, shin¬ing, the testa shallowly but distinctly reticulate.
Type: Linnean specimen 290/3 (LINN, holotype!, as Illecebrum sanguino¬lenta).
Distribution: Foothill and sub-Himalayan zone in Pakistan, ascending to at least 1825 m alt., India extending to China, Thailand, Malay, Indo-China, the Philippines and the Malay islands (Java, Celebes, Moluccas etc.).
Said by Backer (Flora Malesiana 1, 4: 85) to bear hermaphrodite or female flowers; I have not seen flowers without good anthers, but such certainly occur commonly in African Aerva lanata, while Aerva javanica, is dioecious, so female flowers may well be found at least occasionally in the present species.