Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Bridelia tomentosa Blume

Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
Click/tap on images to enlarge
Flowers. © R.L. Barrett
Flowers. © R.L. Barrett
Leaves and flowers. © R.L. Barrett
Leaves, flowers and fruit. © R.L. Barrett
Leaves and fruit. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, Epigeal germination. © CSIRO

Blume, C.L. von (1827) Bijdragen tot de Flora van Nederlandsch Indie No. 7 : 597. Type: Java, in montanis Bantam et Buitenzorg, Blume s.n.; lecto: BO, Fide Airy Shaw (1980), Kew Bull. 35: 602.


Usually flowers and fruits as a shrub about 1-4 m tall.


Leaf blades about 3.7-9 x 2-6 cm, petioles about 3-6 mm long. Lateral veins about 7-13, curving but not forming distinct loops inside the blade margin. Stipules short, filiform.


Numerous flowers in each fascicle. Calyx lobes about 1.5-2 x 0.5-0.9 mm. Petals small and inconspicuous, about 0.5-0.6 x 0.4-0.5 mm. Anther filaments about 0.4-0.6 mm long, anthers globose, about 0.5 x 0.4 mm. Styles about 0.4-0.9 mm long, each style with two stigmatic branches.


Fruits globular, about 6-7 x 4-6 mm, calyx persistent at the base of the fruit. Seeds about 3-5 mm long, +/- hemispherical, enclosed in a bony endocarp. Cotyledons curved, about 2.5-3 mm long, wider than the radicle. Radicle about 1 mm long.


Cotyledons obreniform, wider than long about 7 x 10 mm, apex excavated, base truncate, petiole hairy. First pair of leaves +/- orbicular, apex obtuse, base obtuse, margins ciliate, underside almost white. At the tenth leaf stage: stipules hairy, about 4-5 mm long. Leaf blade obovate to elliptic, apex mucronate, base obtuse, much paler on the underside. Midrib depressed on the upper surface. Seed germination time 206 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in WA, NT, CYP, NEQ and CEQ. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 500 m. Grows in open forest, vine thickets, monsoon forest and the drier types of rain forest. Also occurs in Asia and Malesia.

Natural History & Notes

This is a typical tree of waste ground. It is apparently well known in village-medicine and it is said in folk-tales that both tiger and crocodile sprung from its shade. Strange feat for such a dreary tree! Corner (1982).

Bridelia tomentosa Blume var. tomentosa, Prodromus 15(2.: 501(1866). Bridelia tomentosa var. trichadenia Mull.Arg., Prodromus 15(2.: 501(1866), Type: Northern Territory, Arnhemsland, F. Mueller s.n.; holo: G-DC. Bridelia tomentosa var. ovoidea Benth., Flora Australiensis 6: 120(1873), Type: Northern Territory, Wood Island, Gulliver s.n.; holo: K; iso: MEL. Bridelia tomentosa var. glabrifolia (Merr.) Airy Shaw, Kew Bulletin 31: 383(1976). Bridelia phyllanthoides W.Fitzg., Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Western Australia 3: 163(1918), Type: Western Australia, Base of Mt. Broome, 1905, W.V.Fitzgerald 823; holo: NSW. Bridelia tomentosa var. eriantha Airy Shaw, Kew Bulletin 31: 384(1976), Type: Northern Territory, About 6 miles [10 km] N. of Pine Creek Township, 6 Mar. 1965, M. Lazarides 145 & L. G. Adams; holo: K; iso: BRI, CANB, DNA, NSW.
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