Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Myrsine variabilis R.Br.

Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
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Flowers. © G. Sankowsky
Flowers. © G. Sankowsky
Leaves. © G. Sankowsky
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
Trunk. © G. Sankowsky

Brown, R. (1810) Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae : 534. Type: Port Jackson, R. Brown; Holo: BM.

Common name

Brush Muttonwood; Muttonwood, Brush; Muttonwood


A small tree seldom exceeding 30 cm dbh. Oak grain in the wood and a similar pattern in the inner blaze.


Oil dots circular, reddish, visible with a lens. Leaf blades about 6-12 x 2.3-4 cm. Midrib raised on the upper surface of the leaf blade. Lateral veins 18-22 on each side of the midrib. Oil dots globular, red, often concentrated near the blade margin. Fine oak grain in the twigs.


Inflorescence much shorter than the leaves, barely exceeding the petioles. Pedicels about 3-5 mm long. Corolla tube about 1.5-2 mm long, corolla lobes about 0.5-1 mm long, outer surface minutely papillose. Ovary about 1 x 1 mm, stigma short and capitate, +/- papillose.


Infructescence much shorter than the leaves, barely exceeding the petioles, pedicels about 3-5 mm long. Calyx lobes persistent at the base of the fruit. Fruits globular, about 4 x 4.5 mm. Oil dots visible in the exocarp and in the white fleshed pericarp. Cotyledons about as wide as the radicle or slightly narrower.


Cotyledons ovate, about 9-12 mm long. First pair of leaves obovate with about 3-5 coarse peg-like teeth on each side of the midrib. At the tenth leaf stage: leaf blade ovate, apex acute, base attenuate, margins serrate, about 6-8 teeth on each side of the leaf blade, glabrous; oil dots reddish. Terminal bud clothed in reddish scale-like hairs. Seed germination time 55 to 95 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Endemic to Australia, occurs in CYP, NEQ, CEQ and southwards as far as south-eastern New South Wales. Altitudinal range in CYP and NEQ from near sea level to 800 m. Grows in drier, more seasonal rain forest and monsoon forest.

Natural History & Notes

Food plant for the larval stages of the White Lineblue Butterfly. Common & Waterhouse (1981).

Rapanea variabilis (R.Br.) Mez, Das Pflanzenreich Heft 9 : 355(1902). Rapanea sp. (Clifton Beach R.L. Jago 4080), Names & Distribution of Queensland Plants, Algae & Lichens : 119(2002). Myrsine campanulata F. Muell., Fragmenta 6: 235(1868), Type: Queensland, Basalt Wall, Fletcher Creek, R. Daintree. Holo: MEL. Rapanea campanulata (F. Muell.) Mez, Das Pflanzenr. 9: 356(1902).
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