The presence of members of the Proteaceae family (colloqually called “Prots”) in Australian tropical rainforest is a key feature that makes Australian tropical rainforests unique on a global basis. Among the members of the Proteaceae that have taken to rainforest living, some stand out more than others, even when they have not flowers. The Far North Queensland endemic Briar Oak is one such member. What is more interesting is that the leaves of younger plants totally different from those of older plants, hence the specific epithet ‘heterophylla‘. Many other rainforest Prots do this as well (eg, Athertonia, Buckinghamia, Darlingia, Grevillea, Placospermum, Stenocarpus, etc), but Musgravea doesn’t take a particularly trained eye to immediately tell it apart from the other rainforest Prots. Anyone can recognize the lobed leaves which look like giant oak leaves with very closely spaced lobes. The undersides are also silvery. When the tree matures the leaves on display are a normal-looking obovate, and can only be recognized if one is already familiar with the venation.
Unsurprisingly, juvenile plants make good ornamentals.
More on this handsome plant when it shows me the more tender aspects (flowers and fruits) of it’s personality.