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Melodinus australis

Family

Apocynaceae

Botanical Name

Melodinus australis (F.Muell.) Pierre

Pierre, J.B.L. (1898) Bulletin Mensuel de la Societe de Linneenne, Paris ser. 2 1: 103. Type: ?.

Synonyms

Rhytileucoma chilocarpoides F.Muell., Fragm. 2: 90(1860), Type: Nom. illeg. in syn. Melodinus chilocarpoides F.Muell., Fragmenta Phytographiae Australiae 6: 118(1868), Type: ?. Chilocarpus australis F.Muell., Fragmenta Phytographiae Australiae 2: 90(1861), Type: New South Wales, Clarence River, near Grafton, H. Beckler; holo: MEL; iso: BRI.

Common name

Melodinus; Bellbird Vine; Vine, Bellbird; Southern Melodinus; Paiamara; Wongali; Paiamara

Stem

Vine stem diameters to 8 cm recorded. Milky exudate produced from the pith but not from the bark.

Leaves

Twigs and petioles produce a milky exudate when cut or broken. Leaf blades about 8-14 x 3.5-7 cm, petioles about 0.2-0.8 cm long, distinctly grooved or channelled on the upper surface. Lateral veins about 15 on each side of the midrib. A fine stipule-like scar extends across the twig from the base of one petiole to the other.

Flowers

Flowers faintly to strongly perfumed, about 8-12 mm diam. Flowers yellow following anthesis. Sepals triangular, about 1 mm long. Corolla tube about 7-8 mm long, lobes about 4-6 mm long. Glandular lobes (5) located just below the throat of the corolla tube. Stamens attached near the base of the corolla tube. Staminal filaments short, about 0.25 mm long, anthers about 1-1.25 mm long. Pollen yellow. Ovary about 1 mm long. Style + stigma about 3 mm long. Ovules numerous.

Fruit

Fruits about 14 x 2.5-5 cm, apex red when ripe while the base at the same time is green. Mid sections of the fruit +/- orange or yellow. Fruits produce a milky exudate when cut. Seeds numerous, each about 7-8 mm diam., testa warted on the outer surface or sometimes appearing to be clothed in overlapping scales. Embryo about 5-6 mm long. Radicle about 4 mm long. Cotyledons about 2 mm long, but wider than the radicle.

Seedlings

Cotyledons oblong to elliptic, about 8-11 x 2-3 mm. Oil dots elongated, pale, clearly visible with a lens. Cotyledon midrib depressed on the upper surface. First pair of leaves elliptic, apex acute, base cuneate to obtuse. Midrib raised on the upper surface. Glands resembling stipules present at the base of the petioles. At the tenth leaf stage: seedling completely glabrous, leaf blade elliptic to obovate, much paler on the underside, apex acuminate, base cuneate. Midrib raised on the upper surface. Glands present in the leaf axils at the base of the petioles. Lateral veins forming loops inside the blade margin. Leaf blades, petioles and stems produce a milky exudate.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in NT, CYP, NEQ and southwards as far as coastal central New South Wales. Altitudinal range in northern Australia from near sea level to 1200 m. Grows in a variety of well developed types of rain forest. Also occurs in New Guinea.

Natural History

Suspected of poisoning pigs, but feeding tests were negative. Everist (1974).

Fruits ripen from the apex towards the base and are often eaten by birds while still on the vine.

Fruits eaten by Sulphur Crested Cockatoos and Cassowaries. Cooper & Cooper (1994).

Aboriginals in the Kuranda district formerly ate the fruit despite its bizarre appearance and sobering family characteristics.

NT

X

NEQ

X

Vine

X

RFK Code

2005