This endemic member of the Mahogany family is known as the Rusty Almond, probably due to the red rusty hairs that cover the leaf undersides, twigs and also the fruits. At the same time, this trait makes it one of the most easily recognizable species of the family in North Queensland.
A fruiting specimen. This specimen was only about 3m.
The fruit capsules covered with rusty red hairs.
Leaf underside covered with easily rubbed-off rusty red hairs
This native pepper species is one of the easiest to identify among the other native peppers. It is more like a weak shrub rather than a vine, and it has the largest heart-shaped leaves which get up to 30 cm wide. The leaves are bright green and very thin-textured and the plant is usually always growing in environments that are ever-wet.
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.
Ficus spp. (particularly F. congesta, F. septica, F. variegata)
Goosem S, Tucker NJ. 2013. Repairing the Rainforest. 2nd ed. Wet Tropics Management Authority and Biotropica Australia Pty Ltd. Cairns
The Giant Bramble is one of a few species of brambles related to blackberries and raspberries. True to the reputation of being a bramble, this species is thorny and not fun to go walking through. It is often found growing on the edges of lowland and upland rainforest and has been regarded as a weed. Whether it is actually exotic to Australia is not clear. The leaves sometimes have splotchy patterns and the fruits are quite edible. It is very similar in appearance to Rubus moluccanus but larger.
This endemic strangling fig tree, very descriptively named the banana fig, is one of FNQ’s more beautiful fig trees. The large and elongated (~5cm long) figs ripen into a nice dark red, and when you bite into one of them, the first thought that might occur to you is…”substantial”. Relatively tasty bush tucker as well, a far as wild figs go. The figs also arise in pairs per leaf axil – good things come in twos don’t they.
The leaves are largish and have a beautiful bronze underside, and tri-nerved venation at the leaf base. Combined with the hairy stems, angled stipular scars and the long stipule, this native fig is quite distinctive.
While they are strangler figs by nature, they seem to do just fine as stand-alone ornamental trees.
This native mahogany tree is not a particularly well known species, or at least it must be considered so dreary as to not deserve a common name.
In some respects, this species looks more like a member of the Sapindaceae due to it’s alternate leaflets and even a ‘leaflet extension spine’, making it one of those species that you’d probably ‘know when you know’. The leaflets are somewhat glossy green on the underside and a only bit lighter in shade compared to the upperside. The midrib is raised on top.
The flowers some rather few. More on this when I espy some fruits
Leaf stalks swollen at point of attachment to stem
This native species of mahogany is known as the Ivory Mahogany, and it has one of the largest leaves (in terms of length) of the native mahoganies. They can be readily distinguished by the size of the compound leaf and the very conspicuously uneven bases.
“Hairy armpits” at the nerve-midrib intersection
Sapling leaves reach close to 2m in length.