Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Melodinus australis (F.Muell.) Pierre

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Flower. © Barry Jago
Leaves and Flowers. © CSIRO
Fruit, transverse section and seeds. © W. T. Cooper
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Vine stem bark and vine stem transverse section. © CSIRO

Pierre, J.B.L. (1898) Bulletin Mensuel de la Societe de Linneenne, Paris ser. 2 1: 103.

Common name

Melodinus; Bellbird Vine; Vine, Bellbird; Southern Melodinus; Paiamara; Wongali; Paiamara


Vine stem diameters to 8 cm recorded. Milky exudate produced from the pith but not from the bark.


Twigs and petioles produce a milky exudate when cut or broken. Leaf blades about 8-14 x 3.5-7 cm, petioles about 0.2-0.8 cm long, distinctly grooved or channelled on the upper surface. Lateral veins about 15 on each side of the midrib. A fine stipule-like scar extends across the twig from the base of one petiole to the other.


Flowers faintly to strongly perfumed, about 8-12 mm diam. Flowers yellow following anthesis. Sepals triangular, about 1 mm long. Corolla tube about 7-8 mm long, lobes about 4-6 mm long. Glandular lobes (5) located just below the throat of the corolla tube. Stamens attached near the base of the corolla tube. Staminal filaments short, about 0.25 mm long, anthers about 1-1.25 mm long. Pollen yellow. Ovary about 1 mm long. Style + stigma about 3 mm long. Ovules numerous.


Fruits about 14 x 2.5-5 cm, apex red when ripe while the base at the same time is green. Mid sections of the fruit +/- orange or yellow. Fruits produce a milky exudate when cut. Seeds numerous, each about 7-8 mm diam., testa warted on the outer surface or sometimes appearing to be clothed in overlapping scales. Embryo about 5-6 mm long. Radicle about 4 mm long. Cotyledons about 2 mm long, but wider than the radicle.


Cotyledons oblong to elliptic, about 8-11 x 2-3 mm. Oil dots elongated, pale, clearly visible with a lens. Cotyledon midrib depressed on the upper surface. First pair of leaves elliptic, apex acute, base cuneate to obtuse. Midrib raised on the upper surface. Glands resembling stipules present at the base of the petioles. At the tenth leaf stage: seedling completely glabrous, leaf blade elliptic to obovate, much paler on the underside, apex acuminate, base cuneate. Midrib raised on the upper surface. Glands present in the leaf axils at the base of the petioles. Lateral veins forming loops inside the blade margin. Leaf blades, petioles and stems produce a milky exudate. Seed germination time 48 to 245 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in NT, CYP, NEQ, CEQ and southwards as far as coastal central New South Wales. Altitudinal range in northern Australia from near sea level to 1200 m. Grows in a variety of well developed types of rain forest. Also occurs in New Guinea.

Natural History & Notes

Suspected of poisoning pigs, but feeding tests were negative. Everist (1974).

Fruits ripen from the apex towards the base and are often eaten by birds while still on the vine.

Fruits eaten by Sulphur Crested Cockatoos and Cassowaries. Cooper & Cooper (1994).

Aboriginals in the Kuranda district formerly ate the fruit despite its bizarre appearance and sobering family characteristics.

Rhytileucoma chilocarpoides F.Muell., Fragm. 2: 90(1860), Type: Nom. illeg. in syn. Melodinus chilocarpoides F.Muell., Fragmenta Phytographiae Australiae 6: 118(1868). Chilocarpus australis F.Muell., Fragmenta Phytographiae Australiae 2: 90(1861), Type: New South Wales, Clarence River, near Grafton, H. Beckler; holo: MEL; iso: BRI.
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