Achyranthes velutina Hook. & Arn.
Family: Amaranthaceae
Achyranthes velutina image
W.A. Whistler  

Indigenous to American Samoa, ranging from Tokelau to the Tuamotu Islands. In the Territory, this Polynesian endemic is found only on Swains Island. It is called tamatama in Tokelau (adjacent to Swains Island), and is probably uncommon or rare throughout most of its range. Some authors consider this to be just an atoll variety (var. velutina) of Achyranthes aspera L. The species, or the variety, occurs in sunny littoral habitats on atolls, but never on high islands.

Erect woody herb or subshrub up to 2 m in height, with densely white-pubescent stems. Leaves simple, opposite, blade obovate to nearly round, mostly 3–15 cm long, acute to attenuate at the base, acute to acuminate and mucronate at the tip; surfaces densely white-pubescent; margins entire; petiole 5–15 mm long. Inflorescence a narrow terminal spike 5–45 cm long, with a densely woolly rachis, bearing flowers that look like grass spikelets. Calyx of 3 hard, lanceolate, green, lanceolate sepals 5–8 mm long, with 3 shorter spine-tipped bracts below; sessile. Corolla absent. Ovary superior, 2-celled, with a capitate stigma on a short style. Stamens 5, free, included. Fruit an ovoid, 1-seeded utricle, falling enclosed within the calyx. Flowering and fruiting probably occur continuously. Distinguishable by its herbaceous or subshrub habit; white-pubescent foliage; opposite leaves; tiny green flowers; and sharp-tipped, grass-like fruits in terminal spikes.

SWAINS: 1. Whistler 3420—On the beach. Location not mapped.

Other Tokelau Collections: FAKAOFO: (4). NUKUNONU: (1). ATAFU: (1).