Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Calamus warburgii K.Schum.

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Female flowers at anthesis and male flowers in bud [not vouchered]. © J.L. Dowe
Male flowers [not vouchered]. © J.L. Dowe
Fruit. © CSIRO
Infructescence. © CSIRO
Stem and leaf bases. © CSIRO
In lowland rainforest [not vouchered]. © J.L. Dowe
Vine stem bark and vine stem transverse section. © CSIRO
1st leaf stage, hypogeal germination. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO

Schumann, K. (1901) Die Flora der Deutschen Schutzgebiete in der Sudsee : 203. Type: Papua New Guinea: Schumann River [Ramu River, Madang Province], Kersting 437, 30. June 1895.

Common name

Iron Range wait-a-while; Claudie River lawyer vine


Vine stem diameters to 3 cm recorded but stem diameter seldom exceeding 3 cm. Vine stem surface smooth and glassy. Vessels quite large, readily visible to the naked eye.


Leaflets about 100 in each compound leaf. Compound leaf petiole densely clothed in long spines, each spine up to about 5 cm long. Sheathing petiole base also clothed in spines. Each compound leaf with a long leaflet-free tail (cirrus) about 1.3 m long projecting beyond the apical pair of leaflets. Cirrus armed with groups of hooked spines. Leaflet blades about 9-40 x 1-23 cm, sessile, margins finely toothed. Underside of the leaflet blades armed with spines along the midrib, spines becoming more hooked towards the apex. Venation longitudinal and parallel with 3 major veins on each side of the midrib. Compound leaf axis armed with stout spines on each side.


Inflorescences of male or female flowers, each to 2 m long, branched. Male flower 2-3 x 1.5-2 mm in bud; sepals 0.8-1 mm long, yellow green; petals 2.5-3 mm long, triangular, yellow-green, glabrous; stamens 2-3 mm long. Female flowers 3-4 x 2-3 mm in bud; sepals 1.2-1.5, green, glabrous; petals 2.2-2.5 x 1.8-2 mm, light green, glabrous; stigmas strongly recurved, ca. 1.5 mm, white; ovary globose. Sterile male flowers present.


Fruits globular, about 10 x 8-9 mm, the outer surface clothed in diamond-shaped scales. Seeds depressed globular, about 5 x 8 mm slightly concave on the underside, surface finely ribbed. Endosperm very hard. Embryo about 1 x 0.5 mm contained in a cavity.


Two dissimilar cataphylls produced before the first true leaves. The first cataphyll tubular, about 4 mm long, enclosing the leaves and stem. The second cataphyll much longer than the first, sheathing the leaves and stem. First pair of leaves pinnate with 5-8 closely spaced leaflets. Leaflets sessile, +/- narrowly elliptic-oblong. A few spines present on the upper surface of the leaflets along the midrib and the margins. Lower surface of the leaflets and petioles unarmed.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in CYP. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 100 m. Grows in well developed lowland rain forest and gallery forest. Occurs in New Guinea where it is common.

Natural History & Notes

Distinguishing features: leaf terminating in a cirrus (whip-like extension armed with spines); stems clustered at base; leaf sheath densely armed with spines; leaf with 40-100 leaflets on each side of midrib.

RFK Code
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