Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Ichnocarpus frutescens (L.) W.T.Aiton

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Flowers. © R.L. Barrett
Flowers. © CSIRO
Leaves and flowers. © R.L. Barrett
Leaves and Flowers. © CSIRO
Fruit [not vouchered]. CC-BY J.L. Dowe
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, hypogeal germination, cotyledons remaining withi. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Vine stem bark and vine stem transverse section. © CSIRO
Vine stem transverse section. © CSIRO

Aiton, W.T. (1811) Hortus Kewensis 2: 69.


Vine stem diameters to 6 cm recorded. Bark exudate copious, cream in colour turning somewhat yellowish on exposure. Sapwood surface corrugated. White granular stripes usually visible in the blaze.


Leaves, twigs and petioles produce a milky exudate. Several small, reddish, stipule-like glands about 0.3 mm long present on the stem between the petioles. Leaf blades about 6-10.5 x 2-4.5 cm, petioles about 0.7-1.3 cm long. Lateral veins six to eight on each side of the midrib.


Flowers about 5-6 mm diam. Calyx tube about 1 mm long, lobes about 1 mm long. Corolla tube about 2 mm long, lobes about 5 mm long. Anthers about 1.2 mm long, filaments about 0.75 mm long. Ovary about 3 mm long. Style expanded to form a style head resembling a crows nest on a mast.


Fruits consisting of two follicles each about 6.5-14.5 cm long. Seeds about 2 cm long with an attached plume of hairs about 3 cm long. Cotyledons almost as long as the seed, radicle about 1 mm long.


First pair of true leaves ovate to elliptic, apex apiculate, margin ciliate, lower surface sparsely hairy along the midrib. Stem clothed in short, pale erect hairs. At the tenth leaf stage: leaf blade ovate to elliptic, about 4.5-6.5 x 1.8-2.5 cm, mostly glabrous except for scattered hairs on the margins, apex acuminate, base obtuse. Stipules small, less than 1 mm long. All plant parts produce a milky exudate when cut or broken. Glands or stipules present on the stem between the opposing pair of petiole bases. Seed germination time 21 to 42 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in WA, NT, CYP, NEQ and perhaps into the northern part of CEQ. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 500 m. Generally grows in or on the margins of monsoon forests or the drier more seasonal types of rain forest. Also occurs in Asia and Malesia.

Natural History & Notes

The reddish or purple roots are the part regarded as medicinal in India. Cribb (1981).

Echites frutescens (L.) Roxb., Hort. Bengal. : 20(1814), Type: [Sri Lanka] Herbarium Hermann 3:29. Ichnocarpus frutescens var. leptodictyus (F.Muell.) Domin, Bibliotheca Botanica 89(4): 1082(1928). Apocynum frutescens L., Sp. Pl. : 213(1753), Type: Herbarium Hermann, 3: 29 (holo: BM [photo at BRI!], Fide P.I.Forster (1992), Austral. Syst. Bot. 5: 536.). Ichnocarpus ovatifolius A.DC., Prodr. 8: 435(1844), Type: Philippines. Negros, H. Cuming 1809. Ichnocarpus sogerensis Wernh. ex S.Moore, J. Bot. suppl: 61(1923), Type: Papua New Guinea, Central Province. Mt Gawada, Sogeri Region, 25.iii.1886, H. O. Forbes 944. Ichnocarpus frutescens f. pubescens Markgr., Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 61: 208(1927), Type: Papua New Guinea, Madang Province,Minjeb Geb., 11.ii.1908, R. Schlechter 12771 (B destroyed?). Ichnocarpus leptodictyus F.Muell., Fragmenta Phytographiae Australiae 6: 118(1868), Type: Ad sinum Rockinghams Bay; Dallachy. Carruthersia daronensis Elmer, Leafl. Philipp. Bot. 4: 1450(1912), Type: Philippines, Mindanao,Todayo (Mt Apo), vi. 10926. Ichnocarpus dasycalyx Miq., Fl. Ned. Ind. 2: 449(1856), Type: Java. 1802 - 1818, T. Horsfield. Ichnocarpus moluccanus Miq., Fl. Ned. Ind. 2: 449(1856), Type: Indonesia. Molukken, Zippelius[L898110 - 268].
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