Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Callicarpa candicans (Burm.f.) Hochr.

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
Click/tap on images to enlarge
Leaves and flowers. © CSIRO
Leaves and fruit. CC-BY Australian Tropical Herbarium
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO

Hochreutiner, B.P.G. (1934) Candollea 5: 190.

Common name

Great Woolly Malayan Lilac


Grows into a small tree not exceeding 30 cm dbh but also flowers and fruits as a shrub.


Leaf blades variable, about 3.5-18 x 1.5-9 cm, petioles about 1.5-3.5 cm long, grooved on the upper surface. Lateral veins about 5-7 on each side of the midrib. Stellate hairs present on the leafy twigs, petioles and on both the upper and lower surfaces of the leaf blade, being quite abundant on the underside and much sparser on the upper surface where they tend to be concentrated on the midrib and lateral veins. Numerous pale yellow glands visible on the underside of the leaf blade.


Peduncles, pedicels and outer surface of the calyx densely clothed in stellate hairs. Primary peduncles shorter than the petioles. Inner surface of the calyx glabrous. Corolla lobes glabrous but clothed in yellow glands on the outer surface, lobes about 1.4 x 2 m, tube about 2 mm long. Anther filaments about 4-8 mm long, purple, pollen cream or white, anthers clothed in yellow glands. Anthers about 1-1.1 x 0.6 mm. Ovary glabrous at the apex but clothed in yellow glands towards the base. Style long in female flowers and short in male flowers.


Infructescences about as long as the petioles. Fruits globular, about 3 mm diam., glabrous, glandular, burgundy to purple in colour. Seeds about 2-3 x 1.1 mm. Embryo very small, cotyledons longer than the radicle.


Cotyledons orbicular or wider than long, about 3-4 x 3-4.5 mm. First pair of true leaves obovate, margin usually toothed sometimes with only one or two teeth on each side. At the tenth leaf stage: stem, petiole and the underside of the leaf blade clothed in pale stellate hairs. Pale glands also visible on the underside of the leaf blade. Seed germination time 197 to 242 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in WA, NT, CYP, NEQ and CEQ. Altitudinal range from sea level to 400 m. Grows in disturbed areas in rain forest, gallery rain forest, vine thickets, monsoon forest and drier, more seasonal rain forest. Also occurs in Asia and Malesia.

Natural History & Notes

A slow growing species that is cultivated as a shrub for the pinkish to purple flowers and fruits. This species is a fish poison.

This species has been used medicinally in Malaysia and Java. Cribb (1981).

Urtica candicans Burm.f., Fl. Ind. : 197(1768), Type: Java, collector unknown. Callicarpa cana L., Mantissa Plantarum Altera : 198(1771), Type: Java, J. G. Konig s.n. Callicarpa adenanthera R.Br., Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae : 513(1810), Type: [given by A.A.Munir, J. Adelaide Bot. Gard. 6 (1982) 20 as R.Brown s.n., Queensland, 1802-05 (BM, K syntypes]. Callicarpa cana var. typica Bakh., Bulletin du Jardin Botanique de Buitenzorg Series 3 3: 20(1921), Type: Java! Borneo! Timor! Australia!.
RFK Code
Copyright © CSIRO 2020, all rights reserved.