Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Tinospora smilacina Benth.

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© Barry Jago
Female flowers. © CSIRO
Female flowers. © CSIRO
Male flowers. © CSIRO
Leaves and fruits. © CSIRO
Leaves and male flowers. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Cotyledon and 1st leaf stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO
Vine stem bark and vine stem transverse section. © CSIRO

Bentham, G. (1861) Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society, Botany 5 20: 52. Type: Queensland, Plains of Promise in Eastern Australia, 29 Aug. 1856, D. Moore, s.n. Holo: K.

Common name

Snake Vine; Snakevine; Tinospora Vine; Vine, Tinospora; Vine, Snake


Vine stem diameters to 7 cm recorded.


Leaf blades about 4-5-12 x 4-11 cm, petioles about 2.5-9 cm long, sometimes longer than the leaf blade. Five veins, including the midrib, radiate from the base of the leaf blade. Domatia (shallow depressions or foveoles) present only at the base of the leaf blade.


Male flowers: Sepals six, in two whorls of three. Outer sepals about 0.5 mm long, much smaller than the inner sepals which are about 3-5 mm long. Petals six, gland-like, about 2 mm long, much smaller than the sepals in the inner whorl, petals half enveloping the staminal filaments. Stamens six, about 5-7 mm long. Pollen yellow. Female flowers: Flowers about 4-6 mm diam. Sepals six, in two whorls of three, outer sepals about 2 mm long, inner sepals petaloid, about 4.5 mm long. Petals six, obovate, about 1-2 mm long. Staminodes three to six, opposite the petals, about 1.6 mm long. Ovaries three, borne on a column in the centre of the flower. Each ovary about 1.5-2 mm long, stigma sessile, wig-like. Ovules 1 per ovary.


Fruits globular to ellipsoid, about 6-10 x 6-9 mm, style remnants persistent at the apex of the fruit. Surface of the 'seed' (endocarp) coarsely rugose. Seeds about 6-7 x 4-5 mm. Cotyledons flat, spreading, about 4 x 1.5 mm. Radicle about 1.5-0.5 mm.


Cotyledons ovate, blades about 32-43 x 14-25 mm, apex acute or obtuse, base truncate, petioles about 7-8 mm long. Cotyledons glabrous, 3-veined. First leaves cordate, about 6-7 x 4-5 cm, apex acuminate, base cordate, petioles about 4-6 cm long. Venation distinctive with the midrib and 4 lateral veins radiating from the base. At the tenth leaf stage: leaf blade cordate, apex acuminate, base cordate. Petiole at least half as long as the leaf blade. Taproot thick and carrot-like (Daucus carota). Seed germination time 18 to 321 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Endemic to Australia, occurs in WA, NT, CYP, NEQ, CEQ and southwards as far as north-eastern New South Wales. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 650 m. Grows in beach forest, monsoon forest, gallery forest, lowland and upland rain forest as well as open woodland.

Natural History & Notes

This species may have medicinal properties. ( oc/v51n12.html)

This plant used medicinally by Aborigines. Cribb (1981).

Tinospora smilacina var. typica Domin, Bibliotheca Botanica 89(4): 667(1928). Tinospora walcottii Benth., Flora Australiensis 1: 56(1863), Type: Western Australia, Nichol Bay, P. Walcott, s.n. Holo: K. Iso: MEL. Tinospora berneyi F.M.Bailey, Queensland Agricultural Journal 18(2): 76(1907), Type: Qld, Wyangarie.[corr. F.M. Bailey, (1907) to Spring Valley, Hughenden.] Sept. 1905, F.L. Bernay. Syn: BRI, K; Mar. 1906, F. L. Bernay. Syn: BRI. Tinospora smilacina var. berneyi (Bailey) Domin, Bibliotheca Botanica 89(4): 667(1925).
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