Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Scleria sumatrensis Retz.

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Spikelets and flowers. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO

Retzius, A.J. (1788) Observationes Botanicae 5: 19. Type: E Sumatra adduxit Rev. D. Wennerberg.

Common name



Flowers and fruits as a plant about 1-2 m tall.


Leaf blades about 30-180 x 1-8 cm, margins scabrous and quite capable of cutting the skin. Leaves arranged in pseudowhorls of 3-5 on stems which are +/- triangular in transverse section.


Inflorescence subtended by leaf-like bracts (glumes) which become shorter close to the inflorescence. Lower bracts about 25-30 cm long, upper bracts about 5-7 cm long. Flowers in spikelets. Perianth reduced to a 3-lobed disc around the ovary. Stamens about 2 mm long. Style about 1 mm long, stigmas about 0.5 mm long.


Fruits about 2.5 mm long, partly enclosed in the persistent glumes for about half the length. Surface of the fruit wrinkled or sculptured. Embryo less than 1 mm long.


Seed germination time 392 days. Cataphylls produced before the first pair of true leaves. Cataphylls with tubular sheaths encircling the stems. First pair of true leaves linear, venation longitudinal and parallel. At the tenth leaf stage: leaf base longitudinally striated, tubular, sheathing the stem. Leaf blade scabrous, margin minutely serrate, venation longitudinal and parallel. 'Stem' triangular in transverse section, leaves produced in 3 vertical rows. Leaf blade margin quite capable of cutting the skin of unwary collectors.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in CYP and NEQ. Altitudinal range small, from near sea level to about 50 m. Grows in rain forest, often in swampy situations. Also occurs in Asia and Malesia.

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