Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Crispiloba disperma (S.Moore) Steenis

Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
Click/tap on images to enlarge
Flower and buds. © CSIRO
Leaves and flower [not vouchered]. © G. Sankowsky
Fruit, three side views, cross section and seeds. © W. T. Cooper
Leaves and fruit [not vouchered]. © G. Sankowsky
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO

Steenis, C.G.G.J. van (1984) Blumea 29: 393.

Common name



Usually flowers and fruits as a sprawling shrub up to 4 m tall but also flowers and fruits when much smaller.


Leaves, if whorled, in whorls of three or four. Petioles about 3-15 mm long, grooved on the upper surface, leaf blades about 5-20 x 2-5 cm. Lateral veins difficult to see on either the upper or lower surfaces of the leaf blade.


Flowers pseudo-terminal rather than strictly terminal. Flowers strongly but pleasantly perfumed. Calyx tube about 2-3 mm long, very shortly 5-toothed at the apex. Corolla lobes about 3 cm long, with margins fimbriate, midrib visible. Corolla tube about 2.5-4.5 cm long, hairy on the inner surface but glabrous on the outer surface. Brown dots and striations usually visible on the inner surface of the corolla tube. Anthers +/- sessile, pollen yellow. Style about 5-6 cm long. Stigma terminal, +/- umbonate.


Fruit obovoid to ellipsoid, about 15-20 x 10-15 mm. Seeds about 8 x 5 x 3 mm, testa two-layered, the inner one thin and brown and the outer black with radial fibres. Embryo less than 0.5 mm long.


Cotyledons 3 (?), broadly spathulate, about 10 x 6 mm, margins sparsely toothed, First pair of leaves shortly petiolate. At the tenth leaf stage: leaves shortly petiolate, apex mucronate, base attenuate, lateral veins not apparent. Cataphylls intermingled with the true leaves. Petioles somewhat decurrent on the stems. Dark reddish brown hairs usually visible in the leaf axils. Seed germination time 183 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Endemic to NEQ. Altitudinal range from 100-1250 m. Grows as an understory shrub in well developed upland and mountain rain forest, often found growing on soils derived from granite.

Natural History & Notes

Sometimes forms dense thicket of plants and suckers in the understory. Originally this species was described as a Randia disperma S.Moore. This meant that a competent and experienced taxonomist like S. Moore had placed the specimen in the wrong family. There is a message here for all taxonomists but we may also find solace in the fact that perhaps our own mistakes may be forgiven.


Randia disperma S. Moore, J. Bot. 55: 305(1917), Type: Queensland: Bellenden Ker, on long ridge; undergrowth in forest, 610 m, Mar. 1914, L.S. Gibbs 6307 (BM 001041347; BM 001041348; K 000779434; BRI AQ0570009; NSW 650108, images seen).

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