Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Tetracera nordtiana F.Muell.

Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
Click/tap on images to enlarge
Flowers. © G. Sankowsky
Flowers. © CSIRO
Inflorescences and flowers. © CSIRO
Dehiscing fruits showing red arils. © CSIRO
Dehiscing fruit, seeds and arils. © CSIRO
© W. T. Cooper
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Vine stem transverse section. © CSIRO

Mueller, F.J.H. von (1865) Fragmenta Phytographiae Australiae 5: 1. Type: Queensland, Rockingham Bay, Meunga Creek, 4 Jan. 1864?, J. Dallachy; lecto: MEL; iso: BM.

Common name

Small-leaved Fire Vine; Fire Vine; Vine, Small-leaved Fire


Usually grows as a tree-top vine but also flowers and fruits as a shrub. Vine stem diameters to 5 cm recorded. Vascular rays visible to the naked eye in stem transverse sections, equally obvious in the bark.


Leaf blades scabrous (sandpapery) often on both the upper and lower surfaces due to the presence of short hairs which tend to disappear as each leaf ages. Leaf blades about 6-20 x 4-7.5 cm, petioles about 1-3.5 cm long, grooved on the upper surface. Venation distinctive, with the main lateral veins extending from the midrib all the way to the margin of the leaf blade. Small stellate hairs usually visible with a lens on both the upper and lower surfaces of the younger leaves. Young leaf bearing twigs usually scabrous and will sometimes inflict 'rope burns' on exposed skin on the legs and arms of the poor unfortunates lost in the primaeval forest.


Inflorescences up to 20 cm or longer. Flowers sweetly perfumed, about 6-10 mm diam. Sepals +/- orbicular, about 3-5 mm diam. Petals caducous, about 8-9 mm long. Stamens numerous, about 5 mm long. Anthers obtriangular in outline, about 1 x 1 mm with the anther locules in each corner of the anther. Staminal filaments about 4 mm long. Stamens about 4-5 mm long, anther locules quite separate at the apex. Carpels 2-4 (usually 3) hairy, each carpel about 1.5-2 mm long. Styles about 3-3.5 mm long. Ovules about 10 per carpel.


Fruiting carpels clothed in pale +/- prostrate hairs. Carpels ovoid, about 5-8 x 3-5 mm with a 1-2 mm beak. Seeds one. Aril much larger than the seed, aril margin fimbriate with numerous long slender lobes. Endosperm granular. Embryo very small, no more than 1 mm long, cotyledons not exceeding the width of the radicle.


Hypocotyl slightly winged. Cotyledons elliptic, about 8-10 x 5-6 mm. First pair of leaves with toothed margins. At the tenth leaf stage: lateral veins straight and parallel ending in a tooth; both the upper and lower surfaces of the leaf blade hairy. Seed germination time 113 to 147 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in CYP and NEQ. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 1100 m. Grows in well developed rain forest on a variety of sites. Also occurs in Malesia.

Tetracera nordtiana F.Muell. var. nordtiana, Flora Malesiana ser. I 4: 145(1951). Tetracera nordtiana var. moluccana (Martelli) Hoogland, Flora Malesiana ser. I 4: 145(1951). Tetracera nordtiana var. wuthiana (F.Muell.) Hoogland, Flora Malesiana ser. I 4: 145(1951). Tetracera cowleyana var. teeweeree F.M.Bailey, The Queensland Flora 1: 9(1899), Type: Barron River, Cowley. Tetracera cowleyana F.M.Bailey var. cowleyana, The Queensland Flora 1: 9(1899). Tetracera cowleyana F.M.Bailey, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Stock. Botany Bulletin 5: 7(1892), Type: Herbert River, H.G. Eaton; Cairns, E. Cowley. Tetracera wuthiana F.Muell., Fragmenta Phytographiae Australiae 10: 49(1877), Type: Ad flumen Daintrees River cum Pandano semifisso, Fitzalan; ad oram Rockinghams Bay, Dallachy.
RFK Code
Copyright © CSIRO 2020, all rights reserved.