Ask anyone about grass, sedges or rushes and they’ll probably nod in acknowledgment but mention bristleworts and you would most probably get a blank look.
Yet bristleworts and their relatives are a conspicuous component of the Tasmanian vegetation. Anyone who has visited Tasmanian’s wonderful alpine environment has likely seen one, even if they didn’t recognize it as a bristlewort or relative.
Bristleworts are from the Centrolepidaceae (Bristlewort family) and in Tasmania consist of only 3 genera including: Aphelia (Fanworts) – 2 species; Centrolepis (Bristleworts) – 8 species &; Gaimardia (Pincushions) – 3 species.
A fair number of species of Centrolepis and Gaimardia are endemic to Tasmania. I have not had the pleasure of seeing Aphelia but Aphelia is probably the easiest to tell apart from the other two genera because the inflorescence is a spike with numerous bracts.
Many species of Centrolepis and Gaimardia on the other hand, look very alike. Both genera have members that occur in alpine/subalpine environments and exhibit a densely turfed lifeform (like above).
The Student’s Flora of Tasmania gives a very straightforward way of telling this two genera apart, if we are just willing to take a close look.
Apparently, the bracts of Centrolepis are opposte or near opposite whereas those of Gaimardia are clearly alternate (i.e one is above the other).
I imagine it might be quite difficult tell these two genera apart when they are not flowering. Maybe the late Dennis Morris would be able to. He co-wrote the flora after all.