Phyllanthus cuscutiflorus

pink phyllanthus


Phyllanthus cuscutiflorus

S.Moore 1905

pronounced: fill-AN-thuss cuss-kew-tee-FLOR-uss

(Phyllanthaceae — the phyllanthus family)


common name: pink phyllanthus

native 4Phyllanthus is derived from the Greek φυλλον (phyllon), leaf, and ανθος (anthos), a flower; the plants in this genus appear to flower from a leaf-like stem. Cuscutiflorus is from a word of Arabic origin, Cuscuta, the generic of plants of the dodder family – with flowers like Cuscuta.

This is a hardy shrub or small tree, 3 - 4 m tall, occurring in north-east Queensland. It has an altitudinal range of from near sea level to about 400 m, and grows in monsoon forest and drier rain forest. This plant was photographed in Nelly Bay, near the start of the Gabul walkway.

The leaf blades, ovate to elliptical, and paler on the lower surface, range in length from about 4.5 to 13 cm, are 3 - 6 cm wide, and tend to be distichous on the rather slender twigs (up to about 1.5 mm in diameter). The midrib is raised on the upper surface, and oil dots are visible with a hand lens. The foliage is semi-weeping, and the new growth is pinkish to orange-red, and almost grey-purple in some forms.

The plant is monoecious. The pedicels are long and filiform. The flowers, appearing in the spring, are small, about 2 mm in diameter. The disk in the male flower consists of three cerebriform glands, and the stamens are united to form an androphore. In the female flowers the disk is continuous, slightly lobed and somewhat pitted; the tepals are horizontal at maturity.

The fruit is depressed, more-or-less 3-lobed, about 3 mm by 4.5 mm in size. The seeds are tiny, about 1.5 - 2 mm by 1.5 mm.

This native shrub, with its soft weeping new growth and prolific tassels of dainty flowers, makes a good garden shrub. It should be planted in full sun or partial shade, and requires quite a lot of water if the plant is to avoid stress. The only disadvantage is that the flowers take on a fairly unpleasant odour, especially in the evenings.


Photographed in Nelly Bay, 2017
Page last updated 12th March 2019