Scale bar 10mm. Copyright CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. Copyright CSIRO
10th leaf stage. Copyright CSIRO
Pisonia grandis R.Br.
Brown, R. (1810) Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae: 422. Type: [given by Stemmerik, l.c. as R. Brown s.n. (BM: B, isotype) from the North Coast of Australia (Iter Australiense)].
Pisonia inermis Jacq., Selectarum Stirpium Americanarum Historia: 275(1763), Type: Habitat frequens in sylvaticis & fruticosis territori Carthagenensis.
Cabbage Tree; Gatae; Puatea; Pisonia
Usually grows into a tree but can flower and fruit as a shrub.
Leaf blades quite large, about 16-30 x 7-16 cm, petioles about 2-5 cm long. Lateral veins about 7-9 on each side of the midrib, forming loops inside the blade margin. Twigs marked by conspicuous leaf scars.
Perianth funnel-shaped, about 4 mm long, outer surface marked by five rows of black glands. Woolly hairs visible between the perianth lobes. Stamens about 6-10, slightly exserted. Ovary glabrous, unequal-sided, seated on a stalk or stipe about 2 mm long. Stigma fimbriate.
Fruits elongated to club-shaped, about 6-12 x 2-3 mm, 5-ribbed, each rib bearing a row of sticky prickles about 1 mm long. Fruit resembles the head of a mace. Outer surface of the fruit (between the ribs) hairy. Seed about 9-10 x 1.5-2 mm.
Cotyledons orbicular to almost reniform, about 15-21 x 16-31 mm, margins often irregularly crenate, petioles about 7 mm long. First pair of leaves ovate, pubescent on both the upper and lower surfaces. At the tenth leaf stage: stem clothed in very short pale brown appressed hairs just visible with a lens.
Distribution and Ecology
Occurs in NT, CYP, NEQ and southwards as far as coastal central Queensland. Altitudinal range quite small, usually close to sea level. Usually grows in closed forest on islands, particularly those largely composed of coral debris. Also occurs in the Indian Ocean islands, SE Asia, Malesia and the Pacific islands.
This species occurs in quite dense almost pure stands of large trees on coral islands. The fruits are produced in great numbers. These islands are often inhabited by large numbers of sea birds particularly noddies which roost in the trees each night. At times the birds become covered with the sticky fruits and this has given rise to one of the common names viz. Birdlime Tree for this species.
Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)