Calanthe triplicata (Orchidaceae)

Dreaming of a white Christmas- The beautiful Christmas Orchid (Calanthe triplicata) gracing the entrance to the Centre for Rainforest Studies, Yungaburra. I came also seemingly marking the start of some good heavy rains.

This glorious orchid is unmistakable when in flower, but even when not, it is quite easy to spot in the ranforest understorey with it’s large leaves.

See iNat observation entry
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/36558721

Posted in Habitat - Rain forest, Lifeform - Herbs, Orchidaceae (Orchid family), Ornamental Plants | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Randia tuberculosa (Rubiaceae)

Very stoked to see this rainforest shrub in fruit. The species is one of the more interesting Rubiaceaes because it has spines emerging from the leaf axils.
The bright orange fruits have a very distinctive longitudinally ribbed and rough appearance.

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/35635956

Posted in Habitat - Rain forest, Lifeform - Trees & Shrubs, Rubiaceae (Coffee family) | Tagged , | Leave a comment

A long absence and a new direction

week1AustraliacAnnaChah-69

I have very surprised and rather moved when I came back to my blog page after a long absence to find an increase in subscribers and also a growth in the number of views the blog had received. Because of this I thought I’d offer a few words about the long absence.

Changes in Flickr photograph hosting policy

My initial intention for setting up this site were twofold – as a place to share what I believe are key features of plants that I encounter during my exploration of the Wet Tropics, and also as a reference for myself.

As such I have endeavored to post as many photos as I could of detail of leaves and other features, and this used to be feasible with Flickr, but recent changes in the photo hosting policies at Flickr has made it impossible to do this. Imagine my dismay when I tried to access my photos in Flickr and now they ask me to pay a subscription fee or they would delete all but my most recent 1000 photos.

Working in another country

Between Jan 2018 to August 2019 I was working in Brazil, and try as I might, my brain was in another space. My schedule of preparing for lectures simply did not allow me to maintain posting here.

Back to the Wet Tropics

Since August 2019, I have been back in far north Queensland to continue another phase in my exploration of the wonderful plants that call this region home. My current work up in the Tablelands puts me in daily contact with rainforest, and represents another phase in my professional work in the region. As such, I intend to update Florafnq more regularly.

Discovering iNaturalist and integrating it at Florafnq

In the last year, I also discovered iNaturalist and set up an account there to be able to post observations on my broader interests (see my observations page) including plants. This engine allows me to easily photograph on my handphone (featured picture) and post directly to the app.

However, I found that there was an easy way to paste in my photographs hosted at iNat here, and I will attempt to do this from now as I update this blog. Where possible, my future entries to Florafnq will therefore also be linked to an iNat observation. A recent example would be my post on Thaleropia queenslandica.

For those of you who have been following my blog over the years, and also recent followers, thanks very much for your support.

(Thanks to Anna Chahaneau for the photo)

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Thaleropia queenslandica (Myrtaceae)

Recently I came upon this tree, Thaleropia queenslandica, which is supposedly restricted to the Atherton Tableland and surrounding mountains. Suppoesedly this is one of the few species of Myrtaceae with stipules (I will look closer next time). Leaves were very glossy green above with a distinctively raised midrib.

Wonderfully ornamental tree when in bloom, with deep yellow flowers. This individual was on the streets of Atherton.

iNaturalist URL: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/34904956

Posted in Endemics, Habitat - Rain forest, Lifeform - Trees & Shrubs, Myrtaceae (Myrtle family), Ornamental Plants | Leave a comment

Notoscyphus lutescens (Acrobolbaceae)

Notoscyphus lutescens DSC_0411

The yellow (luteo meaning “pale yellow”) drinking vessel (“scyphus”) from the south (“noto”)?

This is a liverwort of rainforest and is also found in New Zealand and other tropical countries.

The leaves are somewhat greenish yellow and under a microscope, it is possible to see two huge fine-granular oil bodies within the cells, along with many smaller chloroplast cells.

The corners of the cell walls have thickening called trigones, which appear like triangles.

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These images were taken on a fieldtrip in 2012. Thanks a lot to David Meagher and Andi Cairns who graciously allowed me to tag along on their fieldtrips and drink of their great bryological wisdom.

Posted in Acrobolbaceae, Liverworts | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Pothos longipes (Araceae)

Pothos

A long yearning? That’s what the name Pothos longipes seems to suggest. In Greek mythology, the character Pothos was part of Aphrodite’s attendants, and carried a vine, indicating a connection to wine or the god Dionysus. And “longipes” denote long-footed.

Pothos longipes is one of the most easily identified plants in the Wet Tropics – it’s common name Candle Vine should be a hint.

The leaves have a strange look – like that of a candle. The “flame” part is actually the main part of the leaf, while the long part is a petiole (leaf stalk) that is flattened out with leafy tisue.

Pothos longipes1-2

This common root climber is a relative of the Philodendron or climbing aroids, and are seen climbing up rainforest trees, often with free hanging stems.

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The ripe fruits are edible and Guyu is the name of this plant in the Ngadjon language of indigenous people from North Queensland (based on the glossary of Bob Dixon)

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Far North Queensland has one other species of Pothos, Pothos brassii, which is a much rarer endemic plant in wetter rainforests.

Posted in Araceae (Aroid family), Edible plants, Habitat - Rain forest, Lifeform - Climbers, Lifeform - Epiphytes | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Fagraea cambagei (Gentianaceae)

Fagraea cambagei DSC_0406 (2)

It is hard to believe that trees in the tropics may be related to the diminutive gentians of temperate zone, but there you go – introducing the Porcelain Fruit, the gentian tree of the wet tropics.

Fagraea cambagei DSC_0021 (2)

The Porcelain Fruit is found in the understorey of lowland rainforest to upland forests, and it can be identified without flowers on the basis of the way the leaves are borne on the stem.

Every successive pair of opposite leaves comes out at a opposite angle to the preceeding pair (i.e. a decussate leaf arrangement), and appear like they split the bud open and burst out of it, thereby leaving a conspicuous scar on the branch.

I had an analogy to describe this but decorum does not permit me to. It’s rather graphic I say.

The unrelated genus Garcinia (where we get mangosteens) does the same thing, but these species will typically always bleed yellow sap when leaves are broken, whereas the Porcelain Fruit does not.

Fagraea cambagei DSC_0021 (1)

The leaves of the Porcelain fruit are rather thick and leathery, and so the veins are not extremely visible underneath.

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Fagraea cambagei Kuranda 22Feb14 DSC_0098 (68)

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The flowers of the Porcelain fruit are gorgeous, and release a sweet aromatic scent but of course, the true reason why this species is so named the Porcelain fruit is because of the round shiny fruit, which ripens pink! Thus the species is also called the Pink Jitta.

Fagraea cambagei_DSC_0107

More like “Jitters” for me. I once made the mistake biting into one of these fruits, mistaking it for a Syzygium cormiflorum. That flavour gives me the jitters when I think about it. All I can say is do not make the same mistake…unless you are a Cassowary.

And be wary of those birds too.

Posted in Gentianaceae (Gentian family), Habitat - Rain forest, Lifeform - Trees & Shrubs | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment