Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Ophiorrhiza australiana Benth. subsp. australiana

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
Click/tap on images to enlarge
Flower. © Barry Jago
Leaves, infructescence and fruit. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO

Halford, D.A. (1991) Austrobaileya 3(3): 370.

Common name

Australian Snakeroot


Usually flowers and fruits as a shrub about 1 m tall but also flowers when smaller.


Terminal buds and young shoots clothed in brownish hairs. Leaf blades very variable in size but up to about 12 x 4 cm with about 6-15 lateral veins. Midrib and lateral veins very obvious on the underside of the leaf blade because their outline is accentuated by a covering of brownish hairs. Petioles rather long and slender up to about 3-4 cm. Stipules +/- broadly triangular at the base but ending in 1 or 2 aristate tips.


Inflorescence short, 3-6 branched, about 1-5 cm long with about 10-20 flowers per branch. Calyx tube (hypanthium) about 1-1.5 mm long, calyx lobes about 0.7-1.5 mm long. Corolla tube about 2.5-4.0 mm long, lobes about 1-2 mm long, inflexed or hooked at the apex. Corolla tube densely hairy at the orifice, hairs straight and appressed. Anthers about 1 mm long. Style inserted in a bilobed disk at the apex of the ovary.


Capsules laterally compressed, about 2-5 x 6-8 mm. Seeds about 0.5 mm long. Embryo minute. Testa surface reticulate.


Cotyledons small, orbicular, about 1-2.5 x 1-2.5 mm. First pair of leaves simple, upper surface with a few bristle-like hairs. At the tenth leaf stage: leaf blade about 60 x 25 mm, clothed in curved, +/- erect pale hairs on both the upper and lower surfaces. Petiole about 4-5 mm long. Stipules interpetiolar, about 4-7 mm long, broad at the base but with a long terete apex. Seed germination time 22 to 411 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Endemic to NEQ. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 700 m. Grows as an understory plant in well developed lowland and upland rain forest.

Ophiorrhiza australiana Benth., Flora Australiensis 3: 407(1867), Type: Queensland. Rockingham Bay, Dallachy.
RFK Code
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