Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Polyalthia hispida B.Xue & R.M.K.Saunders

Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
Click/tap on images to enlarge
Flower. © CSIRO
Fruit, side view, seeds. © W. T. Cooper
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, durian germination. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO

Xue, B., Su, Y.C.F., Thomas, D.C. & Saunders, R.M.K. (2012), Taxon 61(5): 1034


Occasionally grows into a small tree not exceeding 30 cm dbh but usually flowers and fruits as a single-stemmed shrub about 2-4 m tall. Subrhytidome layer black. Oak grain in the inner blaze and wood.


Leaf bearing twigs densely clothed in pale brown hairs. Twig bark strong and fibrous when stripped. Oak grain visible in transverse sections of the twigs. Leaf blades usually slightly unequal sided at the base. Leaf blades about 9-15 x 1.5-5 cm. Petioles quite short, about 0.1-0.2 cm long. Lateral veins depressed on the upper surface and forming a double series of loops well inside the blade margin.


Flowers small, about 7-8 mm diam. Pedicels very short or flowers +/- sessile. Petals densely hairy on the outer surface, but glabrous on the inner. Petals +/- orange but the inner surface of the inner petals reddish. Outer petals wider than the inner petals. Stamens about 30. Pollen +/- white. Ovaries about 12, clothed in bright, shiny, prostrate, rusty brown hairs. Ovules 2 per ovary. Styles very short or absent. Stigmas fused, almost forming one combined structure.


Fruiting carpels ovoid to globular, about 10-15 x 10-12 mm, stalked, surface pubescent with erect hairs. Pedicels pubescent, about 5-10 mm long. Seeds about 10 x 5 mm, usually two per carpel. Embryo minute.


First pair of leaves shortly petiolate, alternate, ovate, margins smooth, sparsely pubescent. Small oil dots visible with a lens. Stem clothed in erect, yellowish hairs. At the tenth leaf stage: leaf blade ovate, apex acuminate, base obtuse, hairy on both the upper and lower surfaces, midrib depressed on the upper surface; oil dots very small, may be visible with a lens from the underside. Lateral veins forming loops well inside the blade margin. Stem clothed in erect, golden-brown hairs. Petiole very short, leaves +/- sessile. Seed germination time 91 to 131 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Endemic to NEQ, the collections to date indicate that it is restricted to the foothills of Mt Bartle Frere on the catchments of the North and South Johnstone Rivers. Altitudinal range from 50-650 m. Usually grows in lowland rain forest.


Haplostichanthus rufescens Jessup, Flora of Australia 2: 449 (2007). Type: Queensland, Crawfords Lookout, 15 Feb. 1982, L.W. Jessup 471 & J.G. Tracey. Holo: BRI.  Haplostichanthus sp. Johnstone River (LWJ 471).

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