Cupaniopsis wadsworthii

wedge-leaf tuckeroo


Cupaniopsis wadsworthii

(F.Muell.) Radlk. 1879

pronounced: ku-pan-ih-OPS-iss wadz-WUR-thee-eye

(Sapindaceae — the lychee family)


common names: wedge-leaf tuckeroo, duckfoot

native 4Cupaniopsis means that the tree resembles the genus Cupania, which was named for Francesco Cupani, an 18th century Italian monk and natural scientist who wrote Hortus Catholicus (The Universal Garden) and is most famous for his work with Lathyrus odorata, the sweet pea. The species has obviously been named after someone called Wadsworth, but I have not been able to establish who this was.

This is an Australian native growing in both wet and seasonally dry rainforests, often on hill slopes in rocky soil, from Magnetic Island south as far as Bulburin National Park in central eastern Queensland.

There are two shrubs photographed, by the side of the Nelly Bay to Horseshoe Bay walking track, in the remnant rainforest not far from the beginning of the track at the end of Mandalay Avenue, Nelly Bay.

Duckfoot is a slender shrub growing to about 3 m tall with a stem diameter of up to about 20 cm. The bark is grey with a smooth, firm texture. The branchlets, leaf axils and peduncles are sparsely to densely pale appressed villous; the branchlets and petioles have minute lenticels.

The dark green glossy leaves, medium thick and firm, are pinnate and alternate with 1- or 2-paired leaflets. The leaflets have a very distinctive shape, broad cuneate, truncate or very broadly 2-lobed (occasionally 3-lobed), entire except for juvenile leaves, up to about 8 cm long and 6 cm wide, tapering to the petiolule. The midrib is raised on the lower surface, and small domatia along it are visible. The petiolules are very short, only up to about 2 mm long; the petioles vary in length up to about 2.5 cm.

The inflorescence is raceme-like, 5 – 12 cm long, openly flowered; the pedicels are about 1.5 – 4 mm long. The calyx lobes are about 4 mm long, puberulous outside. The petals are ovate, 2 – 3 mm long.

The fruit is a yellow to orange capsule with 3 lobes, to 1.5 cm long, 2 cm in diameter, pubescent or puberulous; inside each lobe there is a glossy dark brown seed, each seed covered in a bright orange aril. The fruits ripen from October to December, and are very attractive to birds.


Photographs taken in Nelly Bay 2013, 2014
Page last updated 5th December 2018