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Grewia retusifolia



Botanical Name

Grewia retusifolia Kurz

Kurz, W.S. (1872) Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 41(2): 294. Type: India?, Pegu; holo: ?.

Common name

Dogs Nuts; Emu Berry; Dysentery Bush; Dysentery Plant; Turkey Bush; Emu-berries; Dog's Balls


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


Stellate hairs visible with a lens on the younger twigs and petioles. Leaf blades about 4-5 x 2.5-2.7 cm, underside densely clothed in pale persistent stellate hairs and long straight hairs. Upper surface of the leaf blade clothed in small stellate hairs when young but only sparsely so when older. Small auriculate glandular lobes present at the base of the leaf blade. Stipules hairy, filiform, small and caducous. Lateral veins depressed on the upper surface. Twig bark strong and fibrous when stripped. Leaf blade margin toothed from the base to the apex.


Sepals about 6-7 x 1-1.5 mm, outer surface densely stellate hairy, inner surface +/- glabrous. Petals about 3 mm long, inner surface with a glandular structure near the base and a ring of hairs. Staminal filaments hairy. Ovary stalked, clothed in long pale hairs. Stigma rather large, irregularly lobed and lacinate.


Fruits often lobed, usually 2-4-lobed, with scattered brown hairs on the outer surface. Seeds about 3 x 2.5 mm, enclosed in a thick hard endocarp. Cotyledons and radicle green. Cotyledons much wider than the radicle.


Cotyledons oblong to obovate, about 7-16 x 5-11 mm with a few hairs on the underside. First pair of leaves, margins toothed, both the upper and lower surfaces hairy. At the tenth leaf stage: leaves +/- obovate, stellate hairs present on the underside but more sparsely on the upper surface. Twig clothed in stellate hairs. Stipules about 2-3 mm long. Taproot swollen, carrot-like (Daucus carota).

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in WA, NT, CYP, NEQ and southwards as far as coastal central Queensland. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 550 m. Usually grows in open eucalypt forest but sometimes found on the margins of vine thickets and monsoon forest. Also occurs in New Guinea.

Natural History

The leaves of Grewia are one of the best known bush medicines, having a wide reputation as a cure for dysentery and diarrhoea. Cribb (1981).









Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)


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


RFK Code