Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Harrisonia brownii A.Juss.

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
Click/tap on images to enlarge
Flowers. © CSIRO
Leaves and Flowers. © CSIRO
Fruit. © R.L. Barrett
Leaves and fruit. © R.L. Barrett
Habit, leaves and fruit. © R.L. Barrett
Young leaves. © R.L. Barrett
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO

Jussieu, A.L. de (1825) Memoires du Museum d'Histoire Naturelle 12 : 540. Type: Timor, collector unknown; holo: ?.

Common name

Thorn Bush


Occasionally grows into a small tree but usually flowers and fruits as a shrub about 2-4 m tall. Bark lenticellate, brown. Spines present.


Terminal buds and young shoots densely clothed in pale brown hairs. Lateral leaflet blades about 1.5-5.5 x 0.7-3 cm. Middle leaflet larger than the lateral leaflets, to about 3.5-9 cm long. Middle leaflet usually stalked, lateral leaflets sessile or with very short stalks. Compound leaf petiole channelled on the upper surface. Stipules spinescent.


Calyx lobes about 0.5 mm long. Petals up to 5 mm long. Stamens eight, filaments with a hairy appendage on the adaxial surface, anthers clothed in minute hairs or glands. Disk cylindrical, 8-lobed. Styles four, up to 2.5 mm long. Carpels 4-5, fused for about two thirds of their length.


Fruits variable in size and shape depending on the number of carpels which develop. Frequently globose, 4-5 mm diam. but lobed fruits also produced. Fruits black when ripe but the flesh white or translucent. Embryo with U-shaped, i.e. curved, cotyledons which are much larger than the radicle.


Cotyledons oblong, about 5-10 x 1.5-4 mm. First pair of leaves +/- opposite, trifoliolate and at least some of the leaflets conspicuously lobed. At the tenth leaf stage: leaves trifoliolate, lateral leaflets +/- sessile, margin toothed, middle leaflet toothed or lobed. Stipules, when present, are spines up to 2 mm long. Terminal bud and young stem clothed in pale hairs. Seed germination time 96 to 157 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in WA, NT, CYP and NEQ. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 100 m. Grows as an understory plant in monsoon forest and vine thickets. Also occurs in Malesia.

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