Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Miconia calvescens DC.

Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
Click/tap on images to enlarge
Leaf and fruit. © A. Ford
Leaves and fruit. © ATH
Leaf base and three prominent veins. © ATH
Leaf. © ATH

Candolle, A.P. de (1828) Prodromus Systematis Naturalis Regni Vegetabilis 3: 185.

Common name

Green Cancer; Purple Plague; Velvet Tree; Miconia


Tree to 15 m tall but often flowers and fruits as a shrub 4-5 m tall.


Leaves to 70 x 50 cm, with short hairs that are sparse to dense especially on young branches. Undersurface purple, maroon to reddish. Three prominent main veins arch from the base to leaf tip. Intramarginal vein also present. Lateral veins (between three main veins) at 90 degrees.


Flowers in terminal panicles of up to 3000 individual flowers. Flowers ca. 5 mm long; petals pink or white; stamens 10, yellow.


Ripe fruit black to purple. Each fruit may contain up to 200 tiny seeds.


Features not available.

Distribution and Ecology

An introduced species declared a Class 1 invasive weed, originally from Central and South America but now rarely naturalised in NEQ near Tully, Innisfail and the Daintree. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 70 m. Grows in rain forest including in deep shade.

Natural History & Notes

Fig birds have been seen to eat fruit.

Because of the significant threat to Australian rainforests posed by this species considerable effort is being undertaken to eradicate all known plants. Contact the Queensland Department Department of Agriculture and Fisheries phone (13 25 23) for more information.

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