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Thespesia populneoides

Family

Malvaceae

Botanical Name

Thespesia populneoides (Roxb.) Kostel.

Kostelcky, V.F. (1836) Allgemeine Medizinisch-Pharmazeutische Flora 5: 1861. Type: ?.

Synonyms

Thespesia populnea var. typica Domin, Bibliotheca Botanica 89(4): 965(1928), Type: ?. Hibiscus populneoides Roxb., Fl. Ind. ed. Carey 3: 181(1832), Type: Lectotype: H. Roxburgh 1888.F; Wallich Herbarium, K. Fide Fosberg & Sachet (1972). Thespesia populnea var. bynoeana Domin, Bibliotheca Botanica 89(4): 965(1928), Type: N.S. Wales: leg. BYNOE.

Common name

Tulip Tree; Indian Tulip Tree; Portia Tree; Pacific Rosewood

Stem

Blaze finely layered.

Leaves

Leaf blades cordate, about 5-17 x 4-11.5 cm. Midrib and usually four major and two minor lateral veins radiating from the point of attachment of the petiole. Twigs rather pithy and twig bark strong and fibrous when stripped.

Flowers

Flowers large, solitary in the leaf axils, pedicels about 2.5-10 cm long. Calyx +/- cupular with minute teeth, but spreading as the flower develops. Corolla large, about 6-7 cm long, mainly yellow (red towards the base) but turning pink or red throughout following anthesis. Stamens fused to form a central column, anthers horseshoe-shaped. Ovules 4 per locule.

Fruit

Fruits depressed globular to broadly ovoid, about 25-45 mm diam. Seeds about 15 x 10 mm, densely hairy. Cotyledons crumpled and rolled.

Seedlings

Cotyledons transversely elliptic, about 19-27 x 31-47 mm, 5-veined, numerous dark red glands visible with a lens. At the tenth leaf stage: leaves cordate, apex acuminate, base cordate, leaf blade glabrous with a few reddish scales on the upper surface; numerous oil glands visible with a lens; petiole, stem and terminal bud clothed in round or stellate reddish scales; stipules linear, about 2 mm long.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in WA, NT, CYP, NEQ and southwards to coastal central Queensland. Altitudinal range very small, at or slightly above sea level. Grows in beach forest, gallery forest (particularly on banks of tidal streams) and on beaches. Also occurs on Indian Ocean Islands, SE Asia and Malesia.

Natural History

A widespread medicinal use for this plant has been in skin infections. Investigations have shown that the fruits contain a principle described as remarkably active against bacteria of the intestinal tract, and promising for exploitation in curing intestinal disturbances. Cribb (1981).

WA

X

NT

X

CYP

X

NEQ

X

Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)

X

Tree

X

RFK Code

454