Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Lunasia amara Blanco

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
Click/tap on images to enlarge
Flowers [not vouchered]. CC-BY J.L. Dowe
Fruit. © G. Sankowsky
Fruit. © G. Sankowsky
Leaves and fruit. © G. Sankowsky
Leaves and fruit. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, semi-hypogeal, hypogeal germination. © CSIRO

Blanco, F.M. (1837) Flora de Filipinas : 783. Type: Philippines, Luzon Island, Escritor BS 20776 ( Merrill Species Blancoanae 5); neo: ?.


Usually flowers and fruits as a shrub about 2-3 m tall but occasionally grows into a small tree.


Young shoots, twigs and leaves clothed in stellate hairs or scales. Underside of mature leaf blades sparsely clothed in stellate hairs or scales. Leaf blades about 5.5-6.0 cm long, usually narrowly obovate and coarsely toothed or lobed towards the apex. Petiole grooved or channelled on the upper surface. Oil dots very numerous.


All parts of the inflorescence clothed in stellate hairs or scales. Individual flowers in head-like clusters about 3-6 mm diam. which are arranged in racemes or spikes. Flowers small. Male flowers +/- sessile. Female flowers shortly pedicellate. Sepals about 0.5 mm long in male flowers and about 1-1.5 mm long in female flowers. Petals about 1 mm long in male flowers and about 2-2.3 mm long in female flowers. Stamens about 1 mm long, alternating with the petals. Carpels densely hairy on the outer surface.


Follicles about 6-15 x 5-10 mm with beaks about 5 mm long at the apex. Seeds obovoid.


At the tenth leaf stage: leaves obovate, base auriculate, oil dots large, numerous and conspicuous. Stellate hairs or scales present on both the upper and lower leaf surfaces, petiole, twig, young shoot and bud. Seed germination time 28 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in CYP, known only from the Iron Range and McIlwraith Range areas. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 300 m. Grows as an understory plant in undisturbed gallery rain forest. Also occurs in Malesia (East Java, Borneo, the Philippines and New Guinea).

Natural History & Notes

This species may have medicinal properties.

Stem bark material of this species was active against tumor cell cultures. Collins et al. (1990).

Lunasia amara Blanco var. amara, Journal of the Arnold Arboretum 48: 464(1967). Pilocarpus amara (Blanco) Blanco, FL. Filip. ed. 2 : 540(1845). Lunasia quercifolia (Warb.) Lauterb. & K.Schum., Die Flora der Deutschen Schutzgebeite in der Sudsee : 376(1900).
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