Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Aphananthe philippinensis Planch.

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Male & female flowers. © CSIRO
Male & female flowers. © CSIRO
Leaves and fruit. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO

Planchon, J.E. (1848) Annales des Sciences Naturelles, Botanique ser. 3 10: 337. Type: in insula Luconia Philippinarum; Cunning no 1311 in herb. Hook.

Common name

Wild Holly; Rough Leaved Hickory; Rough Leaved Elm; Greyhandle Wood; Grey Handlewood; Elm; Axehandle Wood; Asbestos Tree; Native Elm


Usually a poorly formed tree.


Leaf blades about 2.5-7 x 1-3.2 cm. Both the upper and lower surfaces of the leaf blades, harsh and rough to the touch, resembling sandpaper. Teeth fairly conspicuous, each ending in a definite point. Leaf blade usually no more than 6 cm long.


Male flowers: Flowers about 1.5 mm diam., in condensed racemes or panicles not exceeding the leaves. Female flowers: Flowers usually solitary, about 3 mm long with 2 prominent stigmas about 2.5-3 mm long, stigmas divaricate, usually recurved.


Fruits ellipsoid, about 8-10 x 6-7 mm, styles and stigmas usually persisting at the apex of each fruit.


Cotyledons linear. First pair of leaves ovate to elliptic, margin coarsely toothed, each tooth ending in an aristate tip. Upper surface of the leaf blade scabrous. At the tenth leaf stage: leaves scabrous on the upper surface. Each stiff hair with a basal gland. Leaf blade margin deeply serrate with about 4-6 pungently pointed teeth on each side; stipules linear, hairy. Seed germination time 28 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in CYP, NEQ, CEQ and southwards as far as north-eastern New South Wales. Altitudinal range in CYP and NEQ from near sea level to 900 m. Grows in drier, more seasonal rain forest often associated with Kauri Pine (Agathis robusta). Also occurs in Malesia and the Solomon Islands.

Natural History & Notes

Food plant for the larval stages of the Common Aeroplane Butterfly. Common & Waterhouse (1981).

Timber used to make tool handles, polo heads, cobbler's lasts and baseball bats. Swain (1928).

Bark material of this species was active against some tumors. Collins et al. (1990).

Sponia ilicifolia Kurz, Flora oder Allgemeine Botanische Zeitung 55: 448(1872), Type: Australia: Clarence and Brisbane rivers, Rockhampton (J. v. Mueller). Taxotrophis rectinervis F.Muell., Fragmenta Phytographiae Australiae 6: 192(1868), Type: In silvis a fluvio Clarence-River usque ad sinum Rockinghams Bay. Aphananthe rectinervis (F.Muell.) Planch., Prodromus 17: 208(1873), Type: In Nova Hollandia tropica, ad Clarence River (F. Mueller, ann. 1863).
RFK Code
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