Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Ventilago viminalis Hook.

Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
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Flowers [not vouchered]. © G. Sankowsky
Leaves and flowers [not vouchered]. © G. Sankowsky
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, hypogeal germination. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO

Hooker, W.J. (1848) Journal of an Expedition into the Interior of Tropical Australia : 369. Type: Australia; holo: K?.

Common name

Supplejack; Vine Tree; Medicine Bark


Usually grows into a small tree but occasionally flowers and fruits as a shrub. Juvenile plants can exhibit as vine-like growth habit.


Leaf blades about 5-15 x 0.6-1.2 cm, petioles about 0.5-0.7 cm long. Lateral veins curving inside the blade margin but not forming definite loops. Stipules triangular, about 1 mm long.


Pedicels about 2-3 mm long, calyx about 3 mm long, lobes about 2 mm long, petals absent.


Fruits consist of a +/- globular base about 3-4 mm diam. and a narrowly oblong wing about 20-40 x 7 mm with a conspicuous midrib running down the middle together with a number of much smaller less conspicuous +/- parallel veins.


Cataphylls, 4-6 produced before the first true leaves or reduced leaves. First true leaves narrowly elliptic, apex apiculate, base obtuse. Stipules about 0.7 mm long, purplish. At the tenth leaf stage: leaf blade narrowly elliptical, apex acute with a thickened point, base obtuse. Midrib and main lateral veins slightly raised on the upper surface. Stipules narrowly lanceolate, about 0.8 mm long. Seed germination time 18 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Endemic to Australia, occurs in WA, NT, NEQ, CEQ and southwards as far as north-western New South Wales. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 300 m. Usually grows in open forest but sometimes found in monsoon forest and vine thickets.

Natural History & Notes

This species has been used as drought fodder and is highly regarded in this capacity. However, the high levels of tannin have caused problems in sheep under experimental conditions. Everist (1974).

Aborigines of the Broome district in Western Australia used the bark medicinally. Cribb (1981).

RFK Code
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