Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Polyscias willmottii (F.Muell.) Philipson

Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
Click/tap on images to enlarge
Flowers. © G. Sankowsky
Leaves and Flowers. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO

Philipson, W.R. (1977) Austrobaileya 1(1): 24.


Lenticels large, to 1 cm diameter. Blaze odour conspicuous, pine-like (Pinus spp.). Often grows as an epiphyte or lithophyte.


Stipules produced in the fork formed by the compound leaf petiole and the twig. Older twigs marked by conspicuous scars from former leaf bases. Leaflet blades about 4-8.5 x 1.5-3 cm.


Flowers in umbels which are arranged in diffuse panicles. Calyx lobes small and inconspicuous. Petals about 3-3.5 mm long. Staminal filaments about 1 mm long. Style arms fused, forming a beak-like projection following anthesis.


Fruits +/- hemispherical, about 9 x 7 mm overall. Style arms fused, persisting as a longish beak at the apex of the mature fruit. Calyx lobes persistent. Embryo very small, about 0.3 x 0.2 mm. Cotyledons scarcely distinguishable, no wider than the radicle.


Cotyledons ovate, about 6-7 mm long. First 6-8 leaves simple, ovate or triangular. At the tenth leaf stage: leaves compound with three leaflets, leaflets ovate, apex acuminate, base of lateral leaflets unequal-sided, teeth very small, occurring along the upper two thirds of the blade margin, glabrous; petiole, stem and terminal bud glabrous. Seed germination time 71 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Endemic to NEQ, restricted to the tops of the higher mountains from Thornton Peak and the Windsor Tableland south to Mt Bartle Frere. Altitudinal range from 1000-1500 m. This species can grow as a normal tree but is frequently found as an epiphyte on trees or a lithophyte on granite boulders.

Pentapanax willmottii F.Muell., The Australasian Journal of Pharmacy 2 : 125 (1887), Type: On Mount Bellenden-Ker, at an elevation of about 5000 feet; Sayer and Davidson.
RFK Code
Copyright © CSIRO 2020, all rights reserved.