Parsonsia lanceolata

rough silkpod


Parsonsia lanceolata

R.Br. 1810

pronounced: par-SONZ-ee-uh lan-see-oh-LAH-tuh

(Apocynaceae — the oleander family)


common name: rough silkpod

native 4Parsonsia was named by Robert Brown in 1810 in honour of James Parsons (1705–1770), English physician and Fellow of the Royal Society; lanceolata is from the Latin lancea, a lance or spear.

This plant is a climber with twining stems that ascends to about 4 m high, clambering over other plants.

The roots are strong and wiry, developing tubers that are initially slender and white, but after a time become larger, and brown in colour.

The leaves are variable in shape, from the lanceolate indicated by the specific, to narrow- or broad-elliptic; they are mostly 3 – 10 cm long, and anything up to 5 cm or even more in width, the apex obtuse, emarginate or shortly acute with a short stiff point; the base is cuneate, and both surfaces of the leaf are either glabrous or shortly pubescent, with the hairs difficult to make out except by using a lens. The leaves are leathery to stiff, with a petiole up to about 1 cm in length.

The flowers are borne in compact axillary cymes containing 10 – 50 flowers, with pedicels 1 – 4 mm long, the calyx lobes narrowly lanceolate, approximately 2 mm long; the corolla tube a little more than 1 mm long, the lobes erect, ovate-lanceolate, 3 or 4 mm long. The anthers are fused together to form a cone about 3 mm long surrounding the stigma, each anther sac ending in a long tail at the base. Pollen is produced only in the upper half of each anther. The stamen filaments are free from one another at the base, but fused further up before becoming free again. The flower colour varies from cream to rose.

The fruits are pods about 1 cm wide by up to 12 cm long, the surface covered with short hairs; there are numerous seeds, almost 1 cm long with white plumes 2 or 3 cm in length.

The plant occurs in north-east Queensland, where it is generally confined to monsoon forests or vine thickets, and down the east coast of both Queensland and NSW, as far south as the Hunter Valley.

This is a food plant for the Common Crow butterfly.

When in flower it is extremely popular with honey bees and small native bees;the latter burrow down into the individual flowers before they are fully open, attracted by the heady scent and copious nectar.

The plants photographed were by the side of Mandalay Avenue, Nelly Bay, and by the roadway up to Nobby Head in Picnic Bay.

Photographs taken in Picnic Bay & Nelly Bay, 2012-2015
Page last updated 16th February 2019