Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Waltheria indica L.

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
Click/tap on images to enlarge
Flower. © R.L. Barrett
Flowers. © R.L. Barrett
Leaves and flowers. © R.L. Barrett
Flowers. © R.L. Barrett
Leaves and Flowers. © CSIRO
Leaves and Flowers. © CSIRO
Habit, leaves and inflorescences. © R.L. Barrett
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO

Linnaeus, C. von (1753) Species Plantarum 2: 673. Type: Habitat in India.

Common name



Usually flowers and fruits as a shrub about 1-3 m tall but also flowers when smaller.


Leaf blades about 3-7 x 0.7-2 cm, petioles about 0.4-1.5 cm long. Twigs, petioles and both the upper and lower surfaces of the leaf blade clothed in white stellate hairs. Stipules filiform, hairy, about 2-5 x 0.5 mm. Twig bark strong and fibrous when stripped. Lateral veins and some reticulate veins depressed on the upper surface of the leaf blade.


Flowers in dense axillary or terminal clusters. Flowers about 3-4 mm diam., +/- sessile. Calyx tube and lobes very hairy on the outer surface, the hairs being a mixture of short stellate hairs and long bristle-like hairs. Petals glabrous(?) withering and persisting for some time around the ovary. Staminal filaments fused to form a tube enclosing the ovary and most of the style except for the stigmas protruding from the apex. Free part of the staminal filaments quite short. Staminodes nil. Ovary hairy at least on the upper half, ovules 2.


Capsules enclosed in the persistent calyx. Capsules small, about 2 mm long, outer surface clothed in simple and stellate hairs. Seeds ovoid, about 1.5-2 x 1-1.5 mm. Cotyledons much wider than the radicle.


Cotyledons about 4-7 x 3.5-7 mm, petioles about 2-3 mm long and clothed in long, simple hairs. Upper surface of the cotyledons clothed in hairs while the lower surface is +/- glabrous, margin ciliate. First pair of leaves orbicular or obovate, clothed in stellate hairs on the lower surface, upper surface hairs mainly simple, margin coarsely toothed, stipules linear. At the tenth leaf stage: leaf blade elliptic to ovate, about 40-45 x 30-35 mm, apex acute or apiculate, base obtuse to slightly cordate, margin dentate. Petiole about 15 mm long. Stem, petiole and both the upper and lower surfaces of the leaf blade densely clothed in fine white stellate hairs. Stipules linear, about 3-7 mm long. Venation depressed on the upper surface of the leaf blade. Seed germination time 38 to 82 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in WA, NT, CYP, NEQ, CEQ and southwards as far as south-eastern Queensland. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 750 m. Usually grows in open eucalypt forest but also found in vine thickets, gallery forest and monsoon forest margins. Also occurs in the tropics throughout the rest of the world.

Natural History & Notes

This species may have medicinal properties. ( /herbage/A28216.htm)

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