Psydrax odorata f. foveolata

shiny-leafed canthium


Psydrax odorata  f. foveolata

S.T.Reynolds & R.J.F. Hend. 2004

pronounced: SY-draks oh-dor-AU-tuh forma foh-vee-oh-LAH-tuh

(Rubiaceae — the gardenia family)

synonym — Canthium odoratum

(G.Forst.) Seem. 1868

pronounced: KAN-thee-um oh-dor-AH-tum

common name: shiny-leafed canthium

native 4Psydrax is from the Greek ψυδραξ (psydrax), a pimple, blister or bump; odorata and odoratum are from the Latin odoratus, giving off a fragrance. Canthium is possibly from ακανθα (akantha), a thorn, prickle, and foveolatum is botanical Latin for, ‘having foveoles’.

The Psydrax genus consists of trees, shrubs and a few lianas. It was named by Joseph Gaertner in 1788 in his book, De Fructibus et Seminibus Plantarum. Gaertner may have chosen the name because of the bumpy texture of the surface of the timber, or because of the warty fruits of some species. The name was hardly ever used for the next couple of hundred years, because most authors placed these species in Canthium. Psydrax was re-instated in 1985, and 37 species were transferred to it from Canthium. The forma foveolata is one of two forms of this plant found on Magnetic Island, the other being f. australiana, which has much smaller leaves.

This shrub or small tree to about 3 m tall is endemic to Australia, and occurs in Cape York Peninsula, north-east Queensland, and southwards to central western NSW. On Magnetic Island, it is found in the scrub behind Nelly Bay. It seems to prefer creek banks, alluvial soils (mainly sand), and riverine Melaleuca open forest with rainforest elements, whereas f. australiana likes rocky slopes, shrubland or open heath.

The leaf blades of f. odorata are leathery, up to about 17 cm long. The midrib is raised on the upper surface, and the leaf tapers into a very short petiole. There are often 2 – 3 foveoles on the lower surface, not present on all leaves, and usually not touching the midrib These are usually noticed as raised bumps on the upper surface. Stipules are green, 2 – 3 mm long, usually resinous, with an acute apex.

The white flowers have a pleasant scent, and are about 5 – 7 mm in diameter. The calyx tube is very short, usually less than 2 mm long, with the lobes up to about 3 mm. The stamens are attached to the apex of the corolla tube. Their anthers are about 2.5 mm long, attached to very short filaments less than a millimetre in length. The stigma is longitudinally grooved.

The fruits are globose, about 5 mm or a little more in diameter.

The caterpillars of several Lepidoptera feed on the plant, including:

      • the Hawk Moth Macroglossum hirundo;
      • the Coffee Hawk Moth Cephonodes hylas; and
      • the Gardenia Bee Hawk Cephonodes kingii.


Photographs taken on the Nelly Bay - Horseshoe Bay walk, 2013

Page last updated 21st March 2019