Palmeria hypotephra (Monimiaceae)

Palmeria hypotephra DSC_0318 (3)

This is a little known endemic vine of slightly more upland rainforest and deserves more attention. The combination of opposite leaves with a shiny upperside and white-hairy underside, along with the looping veins that come of the midrib at a high angle should help with identifying this. The more frequently encountered cousin, Palmeria scandens looks similar but appears to have leaves that are softer in texture and not white hairy underneath.
Like members of this family, this vine has rays (i.e. an oak grain) in the cross-sections of the twigs.

Palmeria hypotephra DSC_0318 (1)

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Parapachygone longifolia (Menispermaceae)

Parapachygone longifolia fruits and seed

Removed of their outer flesh, the seeds of this endemic rainforest vine look like they have a design that HR Giger (who designed the disturbing sets for the Aliens movies) might have raised eyebrows upon seeing.

The leaves of this species are long ovate, and the leaf stalk is attached a little inside the margin (peltate). Photos forthcoming once I get a chance to get back to the Daintree.

Posted in Endemics, Habitat - Rain forest, Lifeform - Climbers, Menispermaceae (Moonseed family) | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Pittosporum rubiginosum (Pittosporaceae)

Pittosporum rubiginosum

The Hairy Red Pittosporum is an endemic shrub that occurs in the dark shade of the rainforest understorey. I have hardly seen this species grow taller than 2-3m tall. The leaves are soft textured, hairy, largish (although very small ones occur), and look clustered new the twig tips. The leaf are distinctively obovate and the veins form very distinctive loops far inside the leaf margin. The leaf underside is also often purplish.
As the common name for this endemic shrub species suggests, the fruits of the species are hairy, and the fruits split widely open into two parts, exposing the seeds covered in bright red pulp.

Pittosporum rubiginosum

More on this soon.

Posted in Endemics, Lifeform - Trees & Shrubs, Ornamental Plants, Pittosporaceae (Pittosporum family) | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Eriobotrya japonica (Rosaceae)

Eriobotrya japonica DSC_0636 (4)

The loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) is a tree from the Rose family, native to south-central China. It is a large evergreen shrub or small tree, grown in private gardens as an ornamental with sweet smelling flowers, and probably for its edible yellow fruit.

The loquat can grow to be a small tree with a rounded crown to 5–10 metres. (I have never seen one so big.). The leaves are alternate, simple, largish (around 10–25 centimetres long), dark green, tough and leathery in texture, with a toothed margin. The leaf undersides are densely velvety-hairy with thick yellow-brown pubescence; the young leaves are also densely hairy above, but these hairs soon rubs off.

The loquat has some medicinal uses in the Chinese pharmacopeia.

More on this when I get the chance to try out the sweet fruits.

Eriobotrya japonica DSC_0636 (1)

Posted in Edible plants, Habitat - Urban Areas, Lifeform - Trees & Shrubs, Medicinal Plants, Non-Natives, Ornamental Plants, Rosaceae (Rose family), Tropical Fruit Trees, Useful plants | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Syzygium jambos (Myrtaceae)

Syzygium jambos DSC_0129 (6)

The Rose Apple is planted quite frequently in urban areas, but comparatively few people know that it is delicious. It’s called the Rose Apple for a good reason – the flesh has a rosy flavour.

Posted in Edible plants, Habitat - Urban Areas, Myrtaceae (Myrtle family), Non-Natives | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Mitrephora diversifolia (Annonaceae)

Mitrephora diversifolia DSC_0112

This native tree Mitrephora diversifolia is also known as the flying duck flower (No offence to whomever assigned that name but I can’t see any resemblance), and is one of the more glorious native members of the custard apple family here. The brilliant flowers can vary a bit in colour it seems and are quite large (I remember something ~5cm across). Like some species of the Custard Apple family, some of the floral parts of this species are fused at the tips to form somewhat of a basket. This feature is probably a nuptial chamber for beetles that pollinate the flower. The leaves are hairy, dark green above, and are ovate in shape. The twigs have numerous lighter coloured lenticels (pores).

Recent phytochemical research has shown that root extracts of the plant may have antimalarial activity (Mueller et al. 2009). The species is found in Cape York and also the Malesian region (which includes Southeast Asia) – I’d so love to see this in the wild.

Mitrephora diversifolia DSC_0118

Mitrephora diversifolia DSC_0123

Mitrephora diversifolia DSC_0120
Largish ovate leaves (up to nearly 20cm long)

References

Mueller D, Davis RA, Duffy S, Avery VM, Camp D, Quinn RJ. 2009. Antimalarial activity of azafluorenone alkaloids from the Australian tree Mitrephora diversifolia. Journal of Natural Products 72, 1538-40. doi: 10.1021/np900247f.

Posted in Annonaceae (Custard Apple family), Habitat - Rain forest, Lifeform - Trees & Shrubs | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Myrsine subsessilis (Primulaceae)

Myrsine subsessilis DSC_0574

One of the various native species of Myrsine, this endemic shrub is probably one of the more easy to recognize species as the veins are quite prominent on the leaf upperside, and the midrib is raised. Like most members of the genus, the distinctive translucent oil dots in the leaf will help to at least confirm that this shrub belongs to the Primula family. In this species, the oil dots are round and red. This feature is more obvious in dried specimens.

More on this sometime.

Posted in Endemics, Lifeform - Trees & Shrubs, Primulaceae (Primula family) | Tagged , | Leave a comment