Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Rhus taitensis Guill.

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

Guillemin, J.B.A. (1837) Annales des Sciences Naturelles ser. 2, 7 : 361. Type: Tahiti, Bertero et Moerenhout.

Common name



Exudate emerging from layers in the blaze. Lenticels often large and conspicuous, more than 1 cm diameter.


Leaflet blades about 4-15 x 1.5-5 cm. Leaflets and twigs produce a milky exudate. Pulvinus usually apparent on the terminal leaflet.


Inflorescence quite large and complex. Calyx lobes broadly ovate, about 0.8-1 mm long. Petals narrowly ovate, elliptic or obovate, glabrous outside, pilose inside for the lower half, about 2-2.5 mm long. Disk 10-lobed. Stamens inserted outside the disk, filaments about 1-1.2 mm long , anthers about 0.8-1 mm long.


Fruits produced in great abundance. Fruits +/- ovoid, but laterally compressed, about 6-8 x 4-8 mm. Seeds enclosed in a hard endocarp. Seeds flattened, about 2-3 mm diam. Cotyledons 3-veined.


Seed germination time 13 to 102 days. Cotyledons ovate, about 7-9 mm long, apex and base obtuse. First pair of leaves trifoliolate, the middle leaflet lobed. At the tenth leaf stage: leaflets ovate, unequal-sided, margin smooth or toothed with 1 or 2 teeth, terminal leaflet toothed or lobed; upper surface of leaf blade with hairs along the midrib, lower surface shortly hairy; petiole and rhachis of compound leaf hairy. Exudate clear.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in NT, CYP, NEQ and CEQ. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 600 m. Grows in lowland rain forest. Also occurs in Malesia and Tahiti. Recorded as an introduced species by Jessup (1985) but some early collections indicate that it may have been in Australia before European settlement.

Natural History & Notes

There are no reported cases of allergic reactions to this species but in view of the bad reputation of the genus, the species should probably be treated with caution.

Duckera taitensis (Guillemin) F.Barkley, Lilloa 23: 253(1950). Rhus simarubaefolia var. taitensis (Guillemin) Engl., Monographie Phanerogramie 4: 451(1883). Rhus panaciformis F.Muell., Fragmenta Phytographiae Australiae 7: 22(1869), Type: Inter Rockinghams Bay et Valley of Lagoons. J. Dallachy. holo: MEL. Rhus retusa Engl., Monographiae Phanerogamarum 4 : 450(1883), Type: Java (Zoll. Pl. jav., n. 3463 in herb. var.); Celebes, in peninsula borealis Monado (Teysm. in herb. Bogor., herb. Lugd. bat. atque herb. Monac.). Rhus rufa Teijsm. & Binn., Natuurkundig Tijdshrift voor Nederlandsch Indi 27: 52(1864), Type: Monado; nom. incol. Kajoe-Kambing.
RFK Code
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