Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Sciaphila arfakiana Becc.

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
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Habit and flowers. © ATH

Beccari, O. (1890) Malesia 3: 337.


Erect herb, dark-purplish red, glabrous. Stem simple or branched, ca. 6-17 cm high, 0.3-1 mm in diameter. Plants lack chlorophyll and live as saprophytes.


Leaves scale-like, sessile and appressed, narrowly ovate or lanceolate, 1-3 x 0.2-1 mm, apex acute to acuminate. Leaf blades without venation.


Male flowers: Flowers ca. 6 mm diam., pedicels 8-12 mm long. Perianth segments 6, 3 large, oblong, 1-1.6 x 0.5-1 mm, each with a large gland at the apex, 3 small, 0.8-1.4 x 0.5-1 mm, also with a large gland at the apex. Stamens globose, 0.3-0.5 mm diam., 4-celled, filaments extending 1 mm past the anthers at maturity. Female flowers: Perianth segments 6 equal, oblong to triangular, 0.6-1 x 0.3 mm, apices thickened. Carpels (10-)-20-(-50), globose, surface rugose or tuberculate, 0.2-0.5 mm diam. Style lateral, 0.6-1.8 mm long.


Fruits aggregated in globose heads. Individual fruits ovoid, ca. 0.8 mm long with a shrivelled style attached laterally. Seeds 0.7 mm long, rounded at the top and appressed towards the helium.Testa surface textured with a net-like pattern. Endosperm granular.


Features not recorded.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in NEQ around Mt. Bellenden-Ker. Altitudinal range from 150-1300 m. Grows in shade of rainforests. Also found in Malesia and the Pacific islands.

Sciaphila australasica Hemsl., Bull. Misc. Information, Kew : 44(1912), Type: Queensland, Bellenden Ker hills, K. Domin; Holo: ?. Andruris australasica (Hemsl.) Giesen, Pflanzenreich : 25(1938).
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