Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Aristolochia australopithecurus (Mich.J.Parsons) Buchwalder & Wanke

Slender Vine
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Flower and buds. © B. Gray
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, semi-hypogeal germination. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO

Buchwalder, K. et al (2014) Australian Systematic Botany 27(1): 50.

Common name

Cairns Birdwing Butterfly plant


A slender vine not exceeding a stem diameter of 2 cm.


Leaf blades about 10-26 x 2.5-9.5 cm, petioles about 1.5-3.5 cm long, often curved and acting like tendrils. Reticulate veins very prominent on the lower surface of the leaf blade. Lower surface of the leaf blade clothed in short pale hairs mainly along the midrib and main lateral veins. Hairs do not enable the leaves to cling to clothing.


Pedicels about 18 mm long, ovary (hypanthium) about 11 mm long. Perianth tube sinuous, about 30 x 9 mm, slightly constricted below the throat and then flaring to 18 mm diam. Perianth lobes about 16 mm long, fused together at the apex by maroon filaments up to 30-40 x 1.5 mm. Outer surface of the perianth clothed in pink and purple hooked hairs. Inner surface of the perianth clothed in hairs above the constriction +/- glabrous below the constriction. Inner surface of the perianth tube deep purple on the margin near the apex, otherwise yellow or purple. Stamens fused together to form a structure around the style. Ovary 6-locular. Ovules numerous in each locule.


Fruits about 5-6 x 2.5-3 cm, longitudinally 6-ribbed. Seeds numerous, stacked like biscuits in 6 vertical rows. Each seed cordate, about 8-9 x 8 mm. Embryo about 0.5-0.9 mm long, located at the pointed end of the seed. Radicle slightly longer than the cotyledons but about as wide.


Cotyledons thick and fleshy, +/- triangular. First pair of true leaves cordate or narrowly cordate, base sometimes sagittate. At the tenth leaf stage: leaf blade about 12 x 4 cm, petiole about 1.5-2 cm long, base swollen. Leaf blade elliptic, apex acute to acuminate, base auriculate. Midrib raised on the upper surface. Lateral veins about 4-6 on each side of the midrib. Both the upper and lower leaf blade surfaces clothed in short hairs. Reticulate veins conspicuous. Oil dots quite large, readily visible with a lens. Raised lines extend from the base of the petiole across the stem. Seed germination time 101 to 103 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Endemic to NEQ, in the Bellenden Ker Range area. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 1200 m or perhaps even higher. Grows in well developed lowland, upland and mountain rain forest.


Pararistolochia australopithecurus Mich.J.ParsonsBotanical Journal Linnean Society 120: 227 (1996). Type: Queensland, State Forest Reserve 310, 8 Nov. 1977, B. Gray 331. Holo: QRS.  Aristolochia sp. (Woopen Creek, G. Sankowsky 586 & N. Sankowsky, Queensland Vascular Plants : 26(1994). Aristolochia sp. (Bartle Frere), Climbing Plants of Australia : 154(1988). Aristolochia sp. (Woopen Creek, G. Sankowsky 586 & N. Sankowsky0, Queensland Vascular Plants : 22(1997).

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