Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Biancaea decapetala (Roth) O.Deg.

Click/tap on images to enlarge
Flowers. © CSIRO
Inflorescence and flowers. © CSIRO
Leaves and fruits. © CSIRO
Fruit. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, hypogeal germination. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Vine stem bark and vine stem transverse section. © CSIRO

Degener, O. (1936) Flora Hawaiiensis 7: K 7

Common name

Shoofly; Thorny Poinciana; Wait-A-While


Vine stem diameters to 4 cm recorded. Stems armed with recurved spines attached to a broad conical base.


Leaves bipinnate with about 100-250 leaflets per compound leaf. Recurved spines present on the stem and the underside of the primary and secondary axes of the compound leaf. Leaflet blades about 6-20 x 3.5-8 mm, leaflet stalks about 0.5-1 mm long. Stipules hairy, about 1.5-2 mm long, caducous.


Inflorescence densely clothed in short pale hairs, spines numerous on the lower parts. Petals dimorphic, 4 wide and 1 narrow, 11-13 x 12-13 mm. Stamens 10. Anthers orange or brownish red, basal half of the filaments clothed in tortuous white hairs. Ovary, style and stigma clothed in soft white hairs, hairs about 5 mm long. Stigma curved. Style about 10 mm long. Ovules about 7 per ovary.


Fruits slightly inflated, about 8-9.5 x 2-2.3 cm, ending in a stiff, rigid tip. Seeds 5-8 per fruit, each seed about 8-9 mm long. Testa dark brown, mottled with paler streaks. Embryo orange, cotyledons about 7 mm long, radicle about 1 mm long, much narrower than the cotyledons.


First and second leaves pinnate, third leaf bipinnate. First leaf with 10 leaflets. Leaflets elliptic to obovate, apex mucronate, base obtuse and oblique, quite pale on the underside. Compound leaf rhachis hairy, spiny, the spines occurring at the point of attachment of the leaflets. At the tenth leaf stage: leaf compound, bipinnate, leaf consists of 60-72 leaflets attached to 3 pairs of secondary axes. Spines present on the upper surfaces of the compound leaf petiole and the primary axis of the compound leaf. Similar smaller spines also present on the upper surface of each secondary axis between the points of attachment of the leaflets, mainly the basal leaflets. Leaflet blades oblong-elliptic to elliptic-obovate, apex obtuse (often with a mucro) base obtuse (usually oblique). Leaflet blades much paler on the underside. Stipules hairy, about 2.5 mm long. Seed germination time 14 days.

Distribution and Ecology

An introduced species originally from Asia and Malesia. naturalised in NEQ, CEQ and southwards as far as coastal central New South Wales. Altitudinal range in NEQ from near sea level to 700 m. Grows as a weed in disturbed areas and can be found along roads and in disturbed areas in rain forest.

Natural History & Notes

This species may have medicinal properties.


Caesalpinia decapetala (Roth) Alston, A Handbook to the Flora of Ceylon, Suppl. : 89 (1931). Reichardia decapetala Roth, Nov. Pl. Sp. : 212(1821), Type: India, Heyne; holo: ?K. Caesalpinia sepiaria Roxb., Flora Indica (Carey) 2: 360(1832), Type: India, Roxburgh; iso: BM, K, Herb. Wallich. 5834A. Fide R. Hattink, Reinwardtia 9: 26 (1974).

RFK Code
Copyright © CSIRO 2020, all rights reserved.