Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Triunia montana (C.T.White) Foreman

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
Click/tap on images to enlarge
Flowers [not vouchered]. © G. Sankowsky
Leaves and flowers [not vouchered]. © G. Sankowsky
Leaves and flowers. © Australian Plant Image Index (APII). Photographer: M. Fagg.
Fruit, several views, transverse section and seed. © W. T. Cooper
Leaves & fruit. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, hypogeal germination. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO

Foreman, D.B. (1987) Muelleria 6: 195. Type: Queensland, Bellenden Ker, Palm camp, Mestons bellenden ker Expedition, QLD, 1889, F.M.Bailey s.n. fide Foreman (1986).

Common name

Mountain Spice Bush; Spice Bush, Mountain


Can grow into a small tree about 6 m tall but usually flowers and fruits as a shrub about 2-3 m tall.


Leaf blades about 8-13.5 x 2.5-4.5 cm, thick and leathery. Petioles about 0.7-1 cm long and somewhat flattened on the upper surface. Usually four leaves in each whorl. Midrib depressed on the upper surface of the leaf blade. Lateral veins, about 7-10, forming loops well inside the blade margin. Oak grain in the twigs. Terminal buds and young shoots densely clothed in rusty red hairs, which usually persist on the petiole and the midrib on the underside of the leaf blade.


Inflorescence about 7.5 cm long. Flowers perfumed, paired, pedicels ferruginous-tomentose, about 4-8 mm long, without a common peduncle. Tepals ferruginous hairy, about 12-20 mm long, anterior tepal free, the remaining tepals coherent at the base and for about half their length. Anthers about 1.5-2 mm long, apiculate at the apex, filaments very short or nil. Pollen white. Hypogynous glands two, free, oblong, about 0.5 mm long. Ovary sessile, densely ferruginous-tomentose, about 1.5 mm long. Ovules 2. Styles about 12 mm long, stigma turbinate.


Fruits maroon, purple or red, globular, about 18-35 mm diam., glabrous, pericarp about 2.5-3 mm thick, seed globose, about 15 mm diam.


Cataphylls produced between the cotyledons and true first leaves. First pair of true leaves opposite or sub-opposite, margins toothed, usually about 3-6 teeth around the margin. At the tenth leaf stage: leaf blade obovate or oblanceolate, apex acuminate, base cuneate to attenuate, lateral veins forming loops inside the blade margin, margin often but not always serrate. Midrib depressed on the upper surface. Petiole, stem and terminal buds densely clothed in ferruginous red hairs. Cataphylls present between the whorls of leaves as the seedling grows. Seed germination time 110 to 112 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Endemic to NEQ, occurs on or near the following mountains: Mt Bartle Frere, the Bellenden Ker Range, Mt Lewis, Mt Spurgeon, Mt Hartley and Mt Finnigan. Altitudinal range from 600-1500 m. Grows as an understory plant in undisturbed upland and mountain rain forest, frequently on granite.

Helicia youngiana var. montana C.T.White, Contributions from the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University 4: 24(1933), Type: Queensland, Bellenden Ker, Palm camp, Mestons bellenden ker Expedition, QLD, 1889, F.M.Bailey s.n. Fide Foreman (1986
RFK Code
Copyright © CSIRO 2020, all rights reserved.