Macaranga involucrata var. mallotoides

brown macaranga


Macaranga involucrata var. mallotoides

(F.Muell.) L.M.Perry 1953

pronounced: mak-ah-ANG-uh in-vol-yoo-KRAH-tuh variety mal-low-TOY-deez

(Euphorbiaceae — the spurge family)


common name: brown macaranga

native 4Macaranga is the vernacular name of this plant in the Philippines; involucrata is from the Latin involucrum, a wrapper, covering, case; mallotoides is from mallus, a lock of wool.

The tree illustrated is a male tree situated by the side of the road to the old Arcadia jetty, near the entrance to the first pair of army houses. We have not found a female tree, nor indeed another male of this species, elsewhere on Magnetic Island, although Macaranga tanarius is quite common here.

Macaranga involucrata var. mallotoides is a tall spreading shrub or small tree (1 – 6 m) endemic to Australia, occurring in the Northern Territory, Cape York Peninsula, and down the east coast as far as central Queensland. This plant is one of those collected in 1770 by Banks and Solander during the voyage of the Endeavour. It was collected at the Endeavour River (Cooktown).

Its altitudinal range is from sea level to about 700 m. It is favoured by disturbance, often growing in gaps in well-developed rainforest, and also on the margins of the rainforest.

The bark of the main trunk is distinctive: grey mottled with a darker grey. Young shoots and younger leaf-bearing twigs are clothed in short pale hairs. Numerous small yellow dots or glands are visible with a hand lens, or sometimes with the naked eye, on the underside of the leaf blade on fresh leaves. Two or four flat glands are generally visible on the upper surface of the leaf blade close to its junction with the petiole. The leaf blades measure about 6 – 16 cm by 5 – 9 cm; they are usually hairy on the upper surface, at least on the midrib and the main lateral veins.

The floral bracts are large, with toothed or lobed margins. The outer surface of the tepals is densely clothed in hairs and yellowish glands. The female flowers are about 1.5 – 2 mm in diameter, the ovary covered with yellowish glands and hairy bristles.

The fruit capsules are covered with short hard-pointed outgrowths, hairy bristles and yellowish glands. The seeds are globular, about 4 – 5 mm in diameter.

A non-durable timber is produced from the various members of this genus, the sapwood not differentiated from the heartwood, which is light yellow-brown, sometimes with a pink tinge. Its texture is moderately fine and even, with straight to shallowly interlocked grain. It is easy to work, and is suitable for the manufacture of such articles as matches, match boxes, paper pulp, particleboard and plywood. Peeled poles are often used for temporary construction, and particularly for parts of native houses that are not in contact with the ground.

This is a food plant for the caterpillars of several Lepidoptera, including:

      • Atasthalistis ochreoviridella;
      • Philiris nitens (Blue Moonbeam);and
      • Philiris sappheira (Sapphire Moonbeam).

Photographs taken at Geoffrey Bay 2011
Page last updated 31st January 2019