Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Trichosanthes pilosa Lour.

Slender Vine
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Leaves and fruit. © CSIRO
Leaves and juvenile fruits. © CSIRO
Leaves and fruit. © CSIRO
Fruit. © CSIRO
Fruit. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, hypogeal, semi-hypogeal germination. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO

Loureiro, J. de (1790), Flora Cochinchinensis 1: 588. Type: Vietnam (holo: lost); Vietnam. Tu Phap, s.dat., Bon 4019 (neo: P, fide de Wilde & Duyfjes [2008: 270]).


A slender vine to 6 m, stem diameter 1-3 mm, 5-ribbed. Tendrils unbranched or 2- or 3-branched, produced near the leaf axils.


Leaves simple, unlobed or shallowly to deeply 3-lobed; emit a faint but unpleasant odour when crushed; leaf blades 7-20 x 5.0-15.5 cm, petioles 1.7-8.5 cm long; both the upper and lower leaf blade surfaces clothed in short pale hairs; petioles and leafy stems clothed in scattered short hairs; marginal teeth small, peg-like, about 12-28 on each side; flat glands (usually 1-5) visible near the margin at the base of the leaf blade on each side of the leaf blade, i.e. to the left or right of the midrib. Indistinct dots (oil dots) visible with a lens when viewed from the underside.


Male and female flowers on different or same plants. Male flowers: in racemes or co-axillary with solitary flower; flowers about 12-40 mm diam; calyx tube (hypanthium) about 20-26 mm long, outer surface clothed in short glandular hairs, inner surface hairy; calyx lobes (sepals) about 4-7 mm long; corolla lobes (petals) excluding the fimbriations or hairs about 6-8 mm long; about 4-6 hairs attached to each side of the petal, those at the base short and simple, while those at the apex are branched many times and are much longer; stamens 3, filaments about 1.5 mm long; anther locules sinuous, two stamens with bi-locular anthers and one stamen with a unilocular anther. Female flowers: in racemes or solitary, and rarely intermixed on male raceme; calyx tube (hypanthium) about 18-50 mm long including ovary; sepals triangular, 2-9 mm long; corolla diameter excluding fimbriations 15-17 mm; corolla lobes (petals) excluding fiambriations 8-18 mm long;ovary 10-16 mm long.


Fruit obovoid or oblong-globose, apex acute or with short beak, 10 ribbed though sometimes subtle, 3.1-6.2 x 2.5-3.5 cm; seeds numerous, T-shaped, 5-10, 3-locular, longitudinally ridged or grooved; seeds immersed or surrounded by yellowish orange flesh; embryo about 6 mm long; radicle about 0.5 mm long, much narrower and shorter than the cotyledons, which are about 5 mm long and rather thick and fleshy.


Seed germination time 41 to 69 days. Cotyledons usually remain below ground level. First leaves cordate, margin shallowly lobed or with 5-8 peg-like teeth on each side, apex acuminate to apiculate, base cordate to auriculate. Margin toothed to toothed and lobed, each tooth ending in a thickened point. Both the upper and lower surface of the leaf blade clothed in hairs. At the tenth leaf stage: leaf blade +/- cordate, apex apiculate, base auriculate, palmately veined. Margin with 8-13 peg-like teeth on each side. Both the upper and lower surfaces densely clothed in erect translucent hairs. Tendrils 2-armed or unbranched, produced near the leaf axils. Petioles twisted. Taproot short and swollen.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in WA, NT, CYP, NEQ and CEQ. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 1000 m. Grows in vine thicket, monsoon forest and the drier more seasonal rain forests. Also occurs from India to southern China, Japan, South East Asia, Malesia and the eastern Pacific.


Trichosanthes holtzei F.Muell., The Australasian Journal of Pharmacy 1 : 447 (1886), Type: Northern Territory, near Port Darwin, M. Holtze 432; holo: MEL. Trichosanthes ovigera Blume, Bijdragen tot de Flora van Nederlandsch Indie No. 7 : 934 (1827), Type: Java, Mt Salak, Blume; holo: L.  Trichosanthes hearnii Benth., Flora Australiensis 3: 315(1867), Type: Queensland. Rockingham Bay, Dallachy (Herb. F. Mueller) Syn: K, MEL.

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