Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Graptophyllum excelsum (F.Muell.) Druce

Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
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Leaves and Flowers. © CSIRO
Leaves and fruits. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage, cotyledons still attached, epigeal germination. © CSIRO

Druce, G.C. (1917) The Botanical Exchange Club and Society of the British Isles Report for 1916, Suppl. 2 4: 625.

Common name

Fuchsia, Native; Scarlet Fuchsia; Letter Leaf; Native Fuchsia; Fuchsia, Scarlet


Usually flowers and fruits as a shrub up to 3 m tall.


Leaves usually clustered on short lateral shoots, often borne +/- in four rows. Leaves rather variable, about 1.3-2.5 x 0.5-1 cm, paired leaves +/- equal to unequal, margin entire or with a few teeth towards the apex. Spines about 5-12 mm long, occasionally visible in leaf axils. Glands or leaf oil dots elongated, +/- cigar-shaped.


Flowers shortly pedicellate. Corolla 2-lipped (upper lip +/- straight, lower lip 2-lobed and reflexed) about 25-35 mm long overall. Stamens two, anthers slightly exserted, anther locules attached side by side, connective not extending beyond the anthers, filaments hairy towards the base. Ovary green and style glabrous. Ovules erect, superposed, two per locule. Style ending in two stigmas, one larger than the other.


Fruits subtended by persistent linear sepals each about 5-6 mm long. Capsule obovoid, about 17-27 mm long. Seeds up to 4 per fruit, about 3-5 mm diam. Style remnants persistent at the apex. Testa sculptured, pitted and wrinkled. Radicle straight, about 1 mm long, slightly oblique to the cotyledons.


Cotyledons about 7-10 x 7-11 mm +/- equidimensional or wider than long. First pair of leaves +/- spathulate but the margins conspicuously toothed or lobed from about the middle to the apex. Usually two teeth on each side. At the tenth leaf stage: leaf margins conspicuously toothed and occasionally one leaf of each opposite pair with a slender axillary spine about 5 mm long often opposed by a short leaf shoot in the other leaf axil. Leaves in each pair somewhat unequal in size. Seed germination time 19 days.

Distribution and Ecology

The species as recognized in this work is endemic to Queensland, occurs in NEQ and CEQ. Altitudinal range in NEQ from 350-600 m. This circumscription is wider than that of Barker (1986). Often grows on limestone in monsoon forest and vine thickets.

Natural History & Notes

This species has horticultural potential producing large red flowers.

Graptophyllum earlii F.Muell., Fragmenta Phytographiae Australiae 6: 87(1868). Graptophyllum earlii F.Muell. var. earlii, Fragmenta Phytographiae Australiae 6: 87(1868). Graptophyllum earlii var. ilicifolium F.Muell., Fragmenta Phytographiae Australiae 6: 87(1868), Type: J. Nernst. Earlia excelsa F.Muell., Fragm. 3: 160(1863), Type: Rockhampton, Thozet 75; lecto: MEL. Fide R. M. Barker (1986) J. Adelaide Bot. Gard. 9: 161. Graptophyllum thorogoodii C.T.White, Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland 50: 83(1939), Type: Queensland, Kelsey Creek, near Proserpine, H. Thorogood (No. 1, received March, 1937), holo: BRI.
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