Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Quassia amara L.

Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
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Leaves, flowers and fruit. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO

Linnaeus, C. von (1762) Sp. Pl. ed. 2 : 553. Type: Guiana.

Common name

Bitterwood; Quassia, Surinam; Surinam Quassia


Usually flowers and fruits as a shrub about 2-3 m tall.


Compound leaf petioles swollen at their junction with the twigs. Petiole and rhachis distinctly winged. Leaflet blades about 9-13 x 3.5-5 cm. Lateral leaflets sessile or on very short stalks about 0.25 cm long. Twig bark very bitter when chewed. Twigs marked by pale lenticels.


Flowers emit a strong pungent odour. Inflorescence about 20-30 cm long. Pedicels about 10 mm long with a leaf-like scale or bract at the base. Calyx about 2-3 mm long. Petals about 20-35 mm long, bright red outside but white inside. Stamens outside the disk, attached to its base. Stamens about 30-40 mm long, exceeding the petals, filaments hairy near the base, anthers bright yellowish green, about 2 x 0.5 mm. Disk fleshy. Style about 30-35 mm long. Carpels seated on top of the disk.


One to five fruiting carpels produced per flower, each fruiting carpel about 12-13 x 8-9 mm. Seeds one per fruiting carpel, each seed about 10-11 x 7-8 mm, testa thin and brittle. Embryo about 8 x 5-6 mm. Radicle about 1 mm long, cotyledons longer and wider, almost 8 x 5 mm.


Features not available.

Distribution and Ecology

An introduced species originally from Brazil now possibly locally naturalised in NEQ. Altitudinal range probably small. Found only in the Cairns region a few metres above sea level.


Psidium cattleianum orth. var. Sabine Transactions of the Horticultural Society of London 4.: 317 (1822) , Type: Orthographic variant (variant in spelling).

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