Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Uvaria unguiculata (Jessup) L.L.Zhou, Y.C.F.Zu & R.M.K.Saunders

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Leaves and Flowers. © CSIRO
Flower [not vouchered]. © G. Sankowsky
Leaves and flower [not vouchered]. © G. Sankowsky
Leaves and fruit. © CSIRO
Leaves and flowers [not vouchered]. © G. Sankowsky
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
1st leaf stage, cotyledons absent. © CSIRO
Vine stem bark and vine stem transverse section. © CSIRO

Zhou, L. Su, Y.C.F., Chalermglin, P. & Saunders, R.M.K. (2010) Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 163: 39.


Grows into a large tree-top vine, stem diameters to 8 cm recorded. Blaze odour sweet and spicy. Blaze marked with white granular and brown fibrous stripes. Vascular rays obvious in the bark when viewed in transverse section.


Leaf blades about 6-20 x 3-10.5 cm, emitting a sweet odour when crushed. Petioles about 0.4-0.7 cm long, grooved on the upper surface. Oil dots small, just visible with a lens. Lateral veins about 8-11 on each of the midrib. Ferruginous stellate scales present on the midrib on the underside of the leaf blade. Twig bark strong and fibrous when stripped. Oak grain in the twigs. Tendrils are modified branches, backward-pointing branches also assist in climbing. Axillary buds densely clothed in dark brown or ferruginous hairs or stellate scales.


Flowers sweetly fragrant, about 20 mm diam., stalk (pedicel) rather thick, about 12 mm long. Sepals triangular, about 7 mm long, densely clothed in short mainly stellate hairs. Petals 3 + 3, in two whorls. Outer petals +/- cordate, about 15 x 16 mm, outer surface green-brown clothed in scurfy hairs. Inner petals obovate to rhomboid, about 13 x 11 mm, outer surface cream to dirty yellow. Stamens numerous, about 170 per flower, anthers sessile, hooded, each anther about 2.5 mm long. Carpels about 5 mm long, hairy, about 25 per flower. Stigmas sticky, hairy and bifid. Ovules 6-8 per carpel.


Fruiting carpels borne in 'umbels' each containing about 7-10 carpels. Fruiting carpels ellipsoidal to finger-shaped, about 10-25 mm long and densely clothed in short brown stellate hairs. Seeds 1-8 per carpel. Each seed about 6-7 mm long and aligned transversely in the carpel. Testa intrusions pale coloured. Embryo about 1 mm long.


First leaves elliptic, base obtuse. Midrib hairy, depressed on the upper surface. Oil dots visible with a lens. At the tenth leaf stage: leaves arranged in one plane. Leaf blades elliptic to lanceolate, about 40 x 13 mm. Lateral veins about 7 or 8 on each side of the midrib and forming loops inside the blade margin. Terminal bud and stem clothed in dark brown, stellate hairs. Seed germination time 234 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Endemic to CYP. Altitudinal range probably quite small, specimens collected only slightly above sea level. Grows in gallery rain forest.

Natural History & Notes

Food plant for the larval stages of the Fourbar Swordtail, Green Spotted Triangle and the Pale Green Triangle Butterflies. Sankowsky & Neilsen (2000).


Melodorum unguiculatum JessupFlora of Australia 2: 448 (2007). Type: Queensland, Cultivated from material ex Stone Crossing, Wenlock Riv., 8 Dec. 1991, G. Sankowski 1396. Holo: BRI. Iso: DNA. Melodorum sp. (Stone Crossing LWJ 814).

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