Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Salacia chinensis L.

Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
Click/tap on images to enlarge
Leaves and Flowers. © CSIRO
Leaves and fruit. © B. Gray
Leaves and fruit. © CSIRO
Fruit, side view and two cross sections. © W. T. Cooper
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Cotyledon and 1st leaf stage, hypogeal germination. © CSIRO
Vine stem bark and vine stem transverse section. © CSIRO
Vine stem bark and vine stem transverse section. © CSIRO

Linnaeus, C. von (1771) Mantissa Plantarum : 293. Type: Habitat in China.

Common name

Chinese Salacia; Vine, Lolly; Lolly Vine; Lolly Berry; Salacia, Chinese


Usually grows into a vine but sometimes flowers and fruits as a shrub. Vine stem diameters to 16 cm recorded. Transverse sections reveal concentric rings of pink bark included in the wood.


Leaf blades about 4-20 x 1.5-12 cm, mostly opposite but sometimes subopposite. Petioles about 0.5-1.5 cm long, grooved on the upper surface. Stipules very small and inconspicuous, about 0.5 mm long. Lateral veins curving but not forming distinct loops inside the blade margin. Branches modified to form tendrils.


Flowers emit a strong unpleasant odour. Flowers about 6 mm diam. Pedicels about 5-12 mm long. Calyx lobes about 0.5-0.7 mm long. Petals glabrous, distinctly imbricate, about 2-4.5 mm long. Staminal filaments +/- strap-like, broadest at the base and tapering to the apex. Stamens attached inside the disk. Ovary immersed in a fleshy disk. Stigma cone-shaped. Ovules 2 per locule.


Fruits red when ripe, subglobose to ellipsoid, about 13-23 mm diam. Seed solitary, globose, about 10-15 mm diam. Cotyledons completely fused together, radicle very small, visible on the outer surface of the embryo.


Usually about 3-6 cataphylls produced before the first true leaves. Stipules small and inconspicuous, about 0.5 mm long, deciduous. The second, third and fourth leaves produced usually have toothed margins but subsequent leaves have entire margins. Roots orange coloured. At the tenth leaf stage: leaf blade narrowly obovate-elliptic, apex acuminate and bluntly pointed, base attenuate. Margin with about 20 evenly distributed teeth. Midrib raised on the upper surface. Stems with pairs of ribs running from one leaf node to the one below. Stipules about 0.7 mm long, margins laciniate. Some roots orange-coloured. Seed germination time 36 to 105 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in WA, NT, CYP and NEQ. Altitudinal range from sea level to 60 m. Usually grows close to the sea, often found where mangroves are adjacent to rain forest or monsoon forest. Also occurs in Asia, Malesia and islands in the SW Pacific.

Natural History & Notes

Food plant for the larval stages of the Australian Plane Butterfly. Common & Waterhouse (1981).

Salacia prinoides (Willd.) DC., Prodromus 1: 571(1824), Type: E India.
RFK Code
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