Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Polyscias purpurea C.T.White

Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
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Flower and buds. © Barry Jago
Fruits. © Barry Jago
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO

White, C.T. (1936) Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland 47: 64. Type: Queensland, Mossman River Gorge, in rain-forest, L.J. Brass, No. 2072 (type: flowering and fruiting specimens); 5th February Holo: BRI?.


Usually flowers and fruits as a shrub 2-5 m tall often multistemmed and poorly formed.


Compound leaf petiole clasping the stem. Rhachis swollen at the point of attachment of the leaflet stalks. Stalk of the terminal leaflet longer than those on the lateral leaflets. Leaflet blades quite large, about 13-18 x 4.5-6 cm. Terminal buds glabrous.


Inflorescence about 10-25 cm long. Umbels about 8-12 flowered, pedicels about 3-5 mm long. Calyx lobes small and inconspicuous. Petals about 2 mm long. Staminal filaments about 1 mm long. Anthers about 1 mm long. Pollen white. Style arms free and divergent following anthesis.


Fruits depressed globular, conspicuously laterally compressed, about 3-4 x 4-4.5 x 2.5-3.5 mm, calyx rim persistent at the apex. Style arms divergent, persisting at the apex of the fruit together with the calyx lobes. Embryo very small, about 2 x 1 mm. Cotyledons no wider than the radicle.


Cotyledons ovate or elliptic, about 3-8 x 5-6 mm long, apex obtuse usually retuse, base cuneate, attenuate, glabrous. First pair of leaves ovate with fine teeth along most of the margin. At the tenth leaf stage: leaf or leaflets lanceolate, apex acuminate, base cuneate or attenuate. Terminal bud enclosed in the sheathing petiole base. Stems, leaf or leaflet margin and midrib on the underside of the leaf or leaflet blades usually purplish in colour. Seed germination time 25 to 73 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Endemic to Queensland, occurs in CYP and NEQ. Altitudinal range from 150-900 m. Grows as an understory plant in well developed undisturbed rain forest on a variety of sites.

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