Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Scaevola taccada (Gaertn.) Roxb.

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
Click/tap on images to enlarge
Flower. © Barry Jago
Leaves and Flowers. © CSIRO
Leaves, flowers and fruit. © CSIRO
Fruit, two views, cross section and seed. © W. T. Cooper
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Cotyledon and 1st leaf stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO

Roxburgh, W. (1824) Flora Indica 2: 146.

Common name

Native Cabbage; Cardwell Cabbage; Cabbage, Native; Cabbage, Cardwell; Beach Scaevola; Beach Cabbage; Sea Lettuce Tree; Pipe Tree; Fanflower; Cabbage, Beach


Usually flowers and fruits as a shrub about 1-3 m tall.


Twigs marked by distinctive crescent-shaped leaf scars each having about 8-10 circular scars left by vascular bundles. Leaf blades shiny, thick and fleshy, about 4-23 x 2-9 cm, completely glabrous on both the upper and lower surfaces.


Corolla about 14-28 mm long, tubular but completely split along one side, lobes with wavy (flounced?) margins. Anther cells quite discrete. Anther connective broad, truncate or concave at the apex. Stigma nodding, surrounded by a bearded funnel-like structure.


Fruits about 7-13 mm long, white and fleshy but the seeds surrounded by a layer which becomes dry and spongy or corky at or following maturity.


Cotyledons elliptic to obovate, about 15-21 x 8-10 mm, petiole about 6-7 mm long. First pair of leaves fleshy, margins with a few teeth towards the apex, hairy on both the upper and lower surfaces or at least the lower surface. At the tenth leaf stage: leaf blade thick and fleshy, obovate, apex obtuse, base attenuate, sessile, both the upper and lower surfaces of the leaf blade clothed in pale hairs. Conspicuous tufts of white hairs present in the leaf axils. Venation obscure. Seed germination time 32 to 36 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in WA, NT, CYP, NEQ and CEQ. Altitudinal range quite small, +/- confined to beaches just above sea level. Usually grows in shrubland or on the edges of beach forest. Also occurs in East Africa, Madagascar, SE Asia, Malesia and the Pacific islands as far east as Hawaii.

Natural History & Notes

Fruit eaten by Cassowaries and Silver-eyes. Cooper & Cooper (1994).

Lobelia taccada Gaertn., Fruct. Sem. Pl. 1: 119(1788), Type: e collect. sem. hort. lugdb.; holo: L. Fide C. Jeffrey, Kew Bull. 34: 543 (1980). Scaevola sericea Vahl, Symbolae Botanicae 2 : 37(1791), Type: Habitat in Savage Island. .. Dn. Prof. Fabricius. Scaevola lobelia de Vriese, Nederlandsch Kruidkundig Archief 2 : 20(1850). Scaevola koenigii Vahl, Symbolae Botanicae 3 : 36(1794), Type: Habitat in India orientali. Lobelia sericea var. koenigii (M.Vahl) Kuntze, Revisio Generum Plantarum 2: 377(1891). Scaevola frutescens K.Krause, Das Pflanzenreich Heft 54 : 125(1912), Type: Niue Island, G. Forster; holo: C. Fide C. Jeffrey (1980) Kew Bull. 34: 543. Scaevola frutescens var. koenigii (M.Vahl) Domin, Bibliotheca Botanica 89(4): 1200(1928).
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