Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Sciaphila tenella Blume

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
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Herbarium sheet. © CSIRO

Blume, C. (1826) Bijdr. Fl. Ned. Ind. 10: 515. Type: Nusa Kambanga, Mt Menarae, C. Blume?; Holo: ?.


Unbranched saprophytic herbs 10-30 cm tall, stems reddish. Plants lack chlorophyll and live as saprophytes.


Leaves broad and scale-like, boat-shaped, leaf blades ovate to oblong, 1-3 x 1-2 mm, apex acute to acuminate, base clasping the stem, without venation.


Flowers red. Flowers hermaphrodite or male, pedicels 6-10 mm long. Flowers 1.5-2 mm diam. Perianth segments recurved, oblong to triangular, 0.8-1.2 x 0.2-0.4 mm, all bearded at the apex with slender hairs 1-1.5 mm long. Stamens usually 6, anthers 2 or 3-celled, anthers 0.2-0.3 mm diam. Carpels 10-50, each obovoid, 0.2-0.3 mm diam. Style lateral.


Fruits aggregated in heads with 10-50 fruiting carpels in each. Individual fruits globular or ellipsoidal, 0.8-1.2 mm long. Seeds 0.7-1 mm long. Endosperm granular. Embryo minute.


Features not recorded.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in NEQ from Mossman Gorge south to Mt. Bellenden-Ker. Altitudinal range from 120-720 m. Grows in shade of dense rainforest. Also from Ceylon and Malesia, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

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