Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Triplaris americana L.

Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
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Fruit. © ATH
Leaves and fruit. © ATH
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO
Seedlings, cotyledons and leaves, epigeal germination. © CSIRO

Linnaeus, C. (1759) Systema Naturae 2 Ed. 10: 881.


Tree to 5-20 m, coppicing. Stems with prominent nodes at leaf base. Plants producing either male or female flowers.


Leaves ovate to oblong, glabrous or slightly rough and hairy beneath; blade to 28 x 14 cm; apex acuminate; veins prominent, 13 to 20 lateral vein pairs; petiole base fused with stipule. Stipule falling and leaving prominent scar encircling stem.


Inflorescences male or female; terminal paniculate inflorescences or axillary racemes, to 30 cm long; hairs long and dense. Male flowers with hairy bracts and brateoles; sessile; perianth of 6 parts, basally shortly fused, hairy; 9 stamens. Female flowers with 2 dissimilar whorls each of three parts; inner 3 petals are small, linear to ovate, fused to outer 3; outer 3 sepals are large, basally fused to form a globose tube that has long spreading lobes, green to cream; styles 3.


Fruit a 3-winged achene, cream, reddish to brown. Seed 3-angled, brown, shiny.


Cotyledons broadly orbicular to broadly ovate with rounded apex, about 10-13 x 11-14 mm, glabrous, petioles short, about 1 mm long; cataphylls possibly present; stipules present, stipule (ochrea) sheathing stem. First pair of leaves about 30-43 x 6-13 mm, petioles 1-2 mm long, sheathing. At the tenth leaf stage: stipule (ochrea) to 14 mm, hairy, sheathing stem; leaf blade elliptic, hairy on both surfaces, underside mainly hairy on midrib. Seed germination time 36 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in NEQ. Naturalised plants have been recorded from disturbed riparian areas near Cairns and Port Douglas. Cultivated plants are more widely planted. Altitudinal range near sea level.

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