Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Emmenosperma cunninghamii Benth.

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Flowers. © CSIRO
Leaves and Flowers. © CSIRO
Fruit. CC-BY Australian Tropical Herbarium
Young fruit. © R.L. Barrett
Immature fruit. © R.L. Barrett
Leaves and young fruit. © R.L. Barrett
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO

Bentham, G. (1863) Flora Australiensis 1: 415. Type: N. Australia. Port Warrender, N.W. Coast, A. Cunningham.


Grows into a large, canopy tree. Living bark bitter when chewed.


Leaf blades about 3.5-11 x 1.8-6.5 cm. Terminal buds and young shoots clothed in pale brown hairs.


Calyx about 2.5-3 mm long, the lobes about 1.5 mm long. Petals about 1 mm long. Anthers enveloped in the hood-like petals until anthesis. Staminal filaments broad based, triangular in outline. Disk orange, attached to the base of the hypanthium and surrounding the ovary. Ovary 3-locular.


Capsules about 0.8-1 x 1-1.3 cm, 3-celled. The capsules usually fall away leaving the seed exposed but attached to the receptacle. Cotyledons thick and waxy.


Cotyledons obovate, about 6-7 x 3-5 mm, rather thick and fleshy, venation not visible. First pair of leaves with stipules about 1.5 mm long. At the tenth leaf stage: leaf blade ovate or lanceolate, about 55-60 x 20-25 mm, mainly glabrous except for a few pale or yellowish hairs on the petiole and the midrib on the underside of the leaf blade; petiole about 5 mm long, clothed in scattered pale prostrate hairs. Stipules hairy to densely hairy, small, triangular, about 1 mm long. Seed germination time 20 to 46 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Endemic to Australia, occurs in WA, NT, CYP, NEQ, CEQ and southwards as far as south-eastern Queensland. Altitudinal range in northern Australia from near sea level to 500 m. Grows in monsoon forest, dry rain forest and well developed rain forest on a variety of sites.

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