Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Parmentiera aculeata (Kunth) Seem.

Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
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Flower [not vouchered]. CC-BY J.L. Dowe
Fruit [not vouchered]. CC-BY J.L. Dowe
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO

Seemann, B.C. (1854) Botany of the Voyage of the Herald : 183. Type: Mexico (?); Central America.

Common name

Cuachilote; Cow-okra; Food Candle Tree; Candle Tree


Usually flowers and fruits as a shrub but grows into a small poorly formed, rather straggly tree usually less than 30 cm dbh. Blaze finely layered.


Leaves very variable, usually trifoliolate and opposite but often with a pair of simple leaves in the axils of the trifoliolate leaves. Leaf or leaflet blades about 2-6 x 0.8-2.5 cm. Petiole of the trifoliolate leaves usually narrowly winged. Domatia are small foveoles with hairs at the orifice.


Flowers large, about 4.5-6 cm long. Calyx dark green, splitting on one side, corolla pale green, with purple or maroon stripes on the lobes. Stigma 2-lipped, rather large and conspicuous.


Fruits +/- longitudinally ribbed, about 8-18 x 4-4.5 cm. Pericarp thick and fleshy but also somewhat fibrous. Seeds patelliform, about 3 mm diam. Testa +/- 2-layered and rather tough. Cotyledons emarginate or lobed at the apex.


Cotyledons lobed, about 6 x 6 mm, apex deeply emarginate, base +/- truncate. At the tenth leaf stage: leaves usually trifoliolate and the petiole winged; leaflets attenuate at the base; foveoles present on the underside; stem pale, marked by paler vertically elongated lenticels. Seed germination time 11 to 13 days.

Distribution and Ecology

An introduced species, originally from Mexico and Central America, now naturalised in NEQ in the Cairns-Gordonvale area and cultivated occasionally on the Atherton Tableland. Probably introduced because of its edible fruits. Altitudinal range from sea level to 750 m. Found at old settlement sites and in disturbed areas of gallery forest.

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