Pioneers of the rainforest

Anyone interested in tropical plants or plant ecology cannot help but encounter the concept of succession. Species that are characteristic of successional habitats or rainforest habitats recovering from disturbance (cyclone, deforestation, etc) are called pioneer or successional species. These species are often characterised by their shade intolerance, rapid growth and absence from mature rainforests. In reality however, and many successional species will persist long after mature rainforest returns, either in the understorey or as emergent species.

Far North Queensland had its own fair share of literature contributing to the science of successional species, and then later to a related topic – forest restoration. A number of authors (Hopkins et al. 1976; see Goosem & Tucker 2013) have proposed classifications of North Queensland successional species which I will list below (asterisks denote exotoc species) under a broad category of Pioneer and Early successional species. It might be noticed also that many successional species are species that occur on rainforest margins and tall (or giant) eucalypt forests.

Acacia celsa
Acacia cincinnata
Acacia mangium
Acacia melanoxylon
Aleurites moluccanus
Aleurites rockinghamensis
Alphitonia spp.
Alpinia caerulea
Alpinia arctiflora
Alstonia muelleriana
Alstonia scholaris
Archirhodomyrtus beckleri
Breynia stipitata
Bridelia insulana
Bridelia tomentosa
Callicarpa candicans
Callicarpa longifolia
Callicarpa pedunculata
Cananga odorata
Cayratia japonica
Chionanthus ramiflorus
Croton insularis
Croton triacros
Darlingia darlingiana
Dendrocnide cordifolia
Dendrocnide moroides
Dicranopteris linearis
Duboisia myoporoides
Elaeocarpus angustifolius
Embelia australiana
Endiandra discolor
Endospermum myrmecophilum
Eucalyptus grandis
Eupomatia laurina
Euroschinus falcatus
Ficus spp. (particularly F. congesta, F. septica, F. variegata)
Flindersia brayleyana
Gahnia aspera
Gahnia sieberiana
Glochidion harveyanum
Glochidion philippicum
Glochidion sumatranum
Guioa acutifolia
Guioa lasioneura
Homalanthus spp.
*Lantana camara
Leea novoguineensis
Litsea leefeana
Lophostemon suaveolens
Macaranga involucrata
Macaranga tanarius
Maclura cochinchinensis
Maesa dependens
Mallotus paniculatus
Mallotus philippensis
Melastoma malabathricum
Melia azedarach
Melicope elleryana
Mischocarpus lachnocarpus
Neolitsea brassii
Neolitsea dealbata
Merremia spp.
Pavetta australiensis
Pipturus argenteus
Polyscias australiana
Polyscias elegans
Polyscias murrayi
*Psidium cattleianum
Quintinia quatrefagesii
Rhodamnia sessiliflora
Rhodomyrtus canescens
Rhodomyrtus effusa
Rhodomyrtus pervagata
Rhodomyrtus sericea
Rhodomyrtus trineura
Rhus taitensis
Rubus alceifolius
Rubus moluccanus
Rubus queenslandicus
Schefflera actinophylla
Senecio bipinnatisectus
Sloanea langii
Solanum sp.
Synoum glandulosum
Tarenna dallachiana
Timonius timon
Trema aspera
Trema cannabina
Trema orientalis
Trema tomentosa
Trichospermum pleiostigma
*Triumfetta rhomboidea
Wikstroemia indica
Wilkiea pubescens


Goosem S, Tucker NJ. 2013. Repairing the Rainforest. 2nd ed. Wet Tropics Management Authority and Biotropica Australia Pty Ltd. Cairns


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"!
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