Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Polyscias macgillivrayi (Seem.) Harms

Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
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Flower bud and immature fruits. © CSIRO
Fruit. © CSIRO
Fruits. © CSIRO
Plant in flower. © A. Ford & F. Goulter
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO

Harms, H.A.T. in Engler, H.G.A. & Prantl, K.A.E. (1894) Die Naturlichen Pflanzenfamilien 3(8): 45.


Usually flowers and fruits as a shrub about 3-4 m tall.


Strong curry powder odour from dried twigs, petioles and leaves. Compound leaves up to 80-100 cm long with 10-17 leaflets. Base of the compound leaf petiole clasping the twig. Two narrow wings extend from the base of the compound leaf petiole for about 5-6 cm along the upper surface of the petiole forming a trough or valley. Leaflet blades often quite large, about 16-28 x 8-11 cm. Stalk of the terminal leaflet much longer than those on the lateral leaflets. Terminal buds glabrous. 'Stipules' decurrent, about 6-7 cm long, attached to the base of the petiole. Leaflet stalks about 1.5-2 cm long, deeply channelled on the upper surface. Lateral veins about 8-10 on each side of the midrib.


Inflorescence large, more than 30 cm long, flowers in umbels arranged in diffuse panicles. Flowers emit an odour like that of curry powder. Calyx lobes small and inconspicuous. Petals about 2-2.5 mm long. Style arms free and divergent following anthesis.


Fruits depressed globular, conspicuously laterally compressed, about 5-6 x 6-7 x 3-3.5 mm. Style arms divergent, persisting at the apex of the fruit together with the calyx lobes. Flesh green. Seeds about 4 x 3 mm. Embryo very small, about 0.5-0.7 x 0.2 mm. Cotyledons no wider than the radicle.


Cotyledons ovate, about 9-14 x 9 mm, apex obtuse, usually retuse, base cuneate, glabrous. First pair of leaves ovate with fine teeth at least in the upper half. At the tenth leaf stage: leaflets ovate or lanceolate, apex acuminate or acute, base cordate, obtuse or oblique, margin serrate, midrib raised on the upper surface. Petiole, rhachis and petiolules grooved on the upper surface. Most plant parts produce a clear or slightly cloudy meagre exudate when cut. Stipules and the base of the petiole fused, difficult to distinguish. Base of the petiole clasping the stems and expanded into a narrow wing on each side and extending about 1-1.5 cm along the petiole. Seed germination time 27 to 42 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in CYP and NEQ. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 200 m. Grows as an understory plant in disturbed rain forest. Also occurs in New Guinea, Micronesia and the Solomon Islands.

Nothopanax macgillivrayi Seem., Flora Vitiensis : 114(1868), Type: Cape York, Australia (MGillivray!). Panax macgillivrayi (Seem.) Benth., Flora Australiensis 3: 382(1867). Tieghemopanax macgillivrayi R.Vig., Bulletin de la Societe Botanique de France 52 : 313(1905).
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