Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Harpullia rhyticarpa C.T.White & W.D.Francis

Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
Click/tap on images to enlarge
Flowers. CC-BY J.L. Dowe
Dehiscing fruit. © Stanley Breeden
Leaves and fruit. © CSIRO
Dehiscing fruit. © Stanley Breeden
Fruit, side view, dehiscing, arillous seed and cross section. © W. T. Cooper
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, hypogeal germination. © CSIRO

White, C.T. & Francis, W.D. (1920) Queensland Department of Agriculture and Stock. Botany Bulletin 22: 10. Type: Queensland, Barnards Spur, Bellenden-Ker Range, F.M.Bailey; holo: BRI.

Common name

Harpullia, Slender; Slender Harpullia


Occasionally grows into a small tree but usually flowers and fruits as a spindly shrub about 2-4 m tall.


Compound leaf petiole and rhachis conspicuously winged or without wings. Stellate hairs usually visible somewhere on young compound leaves, terminal buds and young shoots. Compound leaf petiole swollen at its junction with the twig. Leaflet stalks short. Leaflet blades about 3.5-17 x 1.5-5.5 cm, lateral veins raised on the upper surface.


Flowers strongly perfumed. Calyx clothed in stellate hairs, sepals about 8-10 mm long. Petals glabrous, about 12-14 mm long. Stamens five or six, two or three long and two or three short. Disk hairy, completely surrounding the base of the ovary. Ovary hairy, style short.


Fruit 2-locular, laterally compressed, about 1.5-2.5 cm long, outer surface stellate hairy, calyx persistent at the base. Seed about 12-14 x 9-11 mm, largely enclosed in the aril. Testa smooth, shiny black. Cotyledons pale green.


First pair of true leaves simple, opposite or sub-opposite. Stem clothed in brown stellate hairs. At the tenth leaf stage: leaf simple or compound with three leaflets. Midrib and lateral veins raised on the upper surface of the leaf or leaflet blades. Terminal bud clothed in brown stellate hairs. Seed germination time 13 to 65 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Endemic to NEQ. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 1200 m. Grows as an understory plant in undisturbed, well developed lowland, upland and mountain rain forest.

Natural History & Notes

A very attractive shrub that should be tried in tropical gardens. It probably needs a shady protected position but fruiting specimens are outstanding.

Harpullia angustialata C.T.White & W.D.Francis, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Stock. Botany Bulletin 22: 12(1920), Type: Queensland, Yarrabah, June 1918, N. Michael; holo: BRI.
RFK Code
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