Scolopia braunii



Scolopia braunii

(Klotzsch) Sleumer 1972

pronounced: skol-OWE-pee-uh BRAW-nee-eye

(Salicaceae — the poplar family)


common names: flintwood, mountain cherry

native 4Scolopia is derived from the Greek word σκολοψ, σκολοπος (skolops, skolopis), anything pointed; thus it was used for a thorn, and subsequently for a tree, although I have not been able to ascertain which tree; braunii is for Alexander Carl Heinrich Braun (1805 – 1877), German botanist.

This is an Australian native tree from coastal rainforests, riverine or riparian forest, vine thickets, beach scrub and wetlands from Cape York Peninsula right down the east coast to Jervis Bay (35ºS). The sapling photographed is one of a pair that have been planted in the new children’s playground in Picnic Bay. The mature tree is growing in the Gustav Creek vine forest in Nelly Bay. I was not aware there was one growing there until an exceptional fruiting season in 2015 brought it to my attention.

Flintwood is a medium-sized tree that can grow to 25 m tall and 50 cm in stem diameter, in perfect conditions, but is more often about 10 m tall. On larger trees the stem is flanged or somewhat buttressed. The bark is quite thin, orange to brown in colour, with small raised irregularities and scaly depressions. Coppice shoots are often spinescent. The tree forms a dense symmetrical crown when out in the open.

Young rhombic-shaped red leaves form on slender branchlets that are marked with pale lenticels. These leaves, simple and alternate, mature to green, sometimes toothed, ovate in shape, from 4 – 9 cm long and 1.54 – 3.5 cm wide – they are entire to crenate, and they may or may not have angled margins. The leaves are thick-textured and glossy. They are obscurely 3-veined, the second pair of lateral veins being more obvious than the first pair. The petiole is grooved on the upper surface.

From September to November, creamy white flowers are produced on short terminal or axillary panicles. These inflorescences are about the same length as the leaves. The individual flowers are very small; the sepals are ovate, about 1 – 2.5 mm long, ciliate; the petals are about 3 mm long, overlapping at the apex, but not touching laterally. There are numerous stamens (up to about 60).

The calyx persists at the base of the fruit, an obovoid-globose berry ranging from yellow, orange and red, turning black on maturity, with a persistent hooked style, ripening between December and April; they are about 1 cm in diameter, and containing 2 – 4 seeds.

The fruit is eaten by the topknot pigeon, Lewin’s honeyeater, figbirds and others.

Germination from seeds is erratic, and may be slow and difficult, but cuttings are usually successful. This is a good screening plant, as foliage is retained to ground level.

The foliage is food for the larvae of the Eastern Bronze Flat Netrocoryne repanda and the Australian Rustic Cupha prosope butterflies and a number of moths, including Eloasa infrequens and Cerura australis.

Photographs taken in Picnic Bay 2014, Nelly Bay 2015
Page last updated 1st April 2019