Symplocos cochinchinesis (Symplocaceae)

Symplocos cochinchinensis var gittsonii
Symplocos cochinchinensis var. gittonsii. Note the large leaves and the distinctive purple midrib on the leaf undersurface

This endemic tree of upland rainforest is at first sight a rather nondescript tree. I had quite a rough time finding out what it was but after knowing it I realized that it can be recognized easily by a number of characters. Firstly, the leaves are alternately arranged and inconspicuously toothed towards the apex. It might tale a bit of close looking to make out the teeth but they are there. Secondly, the leaves have a thick cardboard texture and thirdly the midrib or the leaf stalk will usually have some dark coloration, especially on the leaf undersurface.

This species has three recognized varieties all known as White Hazelwood. The variety gittonsii is the easiest to recognize and can be quite ornamental. It has the largest and the most robust leaves (up to 18cm and certainly larger when in a sapling stage). The leaf midrib is also conspicuously purple on the leaf undersurface, for quite a distance up the leaf blade.

I know much less about the other two varieties but presumably they have smaller in leaf size and var. glaberrima has black to puple leaf stalks on the leaf upperside while in var. pilosiuscula has brown or cream midribs on the leaf underside.

More on this when I find some in flower!

Symplocos cochinchinensis var gittsonii

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About David Tng

I am David Tng, a hedonistic botanizer who pursues plants with a fervour. I chase the opportunity to delve into various aspects of the study of plants. I have spent untold hours staring at mosses and allied plants, taking picture of pollen, culturing orchids in clean cabinets, counting tree rings, monitoring plant flowering times, etc. I am currently engrossed in the study of plant ecology (a grand excuse to see 'anything I can). Sometimes I think of myself as a shadow taxonomist, a sentimental ecologist, and a spiritual environmentalist - but at the very root of it all, a "plant whisperer"!
This entry was posted in Endemics, Habitat - Rain forest, Lifeform - Trees & Shrubs, Symplocaceae (Symplocos family) and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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