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Scale bar 10mm. Copyright CSIRO
Flowers and buds. Copyright Barry Jago
Leaves and Flowers. Copyright CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. Copyright CSIRO
10th leaf stage. Copyright CSIRO
Alphitonia excelsa (Fenzl) Benth.
Bentham, G. (1863) Flora Australiensis 1: 414. Type: ?.
Alphitonia excelsa (Fenzl) Benth. var. excelsa, Comprehensive Catalogue of Queensland Plants: 837(1913), Type: ?. Colubrina excelsa Cunn. ex Fenzl, Enum. Pl. Hueg.: 20(1837), Type: Australia, A. Cunningham(?).
Asg, Red; Humbug; Leatherjacket; Coopers Wood; Mountain Ash; Soap Tree; Red Tweedie; Sarsaparilla; Red Almond; RED ASH
Leaf blades about 3-11 x 1.8-6 cm, white or whitish on the underside. Stipules long and narrow, about 3-10 x 1 mm, gradually tapering to a fine point. Freshly broken twigs emit a faint sarsaparilla or liniment odour. Young shoots rusty hairy.
Cotyledons ovate, elliptic or obovate, about 8-16 x 9-11 mm. First pair of leaves toothed, undersides clothed in matted hairs. At the tenth leaf stage: leaf blade underside clothed in white, downy hairs; hairs on stem erect, pale brown. Stipules hairy, linear, up to 3 mm long.
Distribution and Ecology
Probably endemic to Australia, occurs in WA, NT, CYP, NEQ and southwards to south-eastern New South Wales. Altitudinal range in northern Australia from sea level to 800 m. Grows in open forest, monsoon forest and dry rain forest. There may be two taxa included in Alphitonia excelsa in this key viz. A. excelsa (Fenzl) Benth. sensu stricto and A. excelsa 'Broad leaved form' sensu K.R. Thiele. The resolution of this problem must await the publication of a revision of the genus.
Food plant for the larval stages of the Large Green-banded Blue, Small Green-banded Blue, Copper Jewel, Fiery Jewel and Indigo Flash Butterflies. Common & Waterhouse (1981).
The leaves possess a high saponin content sufficient to make a froth if they are crushed and shaken in water. Cribb (1981).
Sometimes grows large enough to produce millable logs. Produces a useful general purpose timber.
Wood specific gravity 0.77. Cause et al. (1989).
Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)