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Syzygium pseudofastigiatum B.Hyland 1983
pronounced: siz-ZY-ghee-um soo-doh-fass-tig-ee-AH-tum
(Myrtaceae – the gum family)
common name: Claudie Satinash
Syzygium comes from the Greek συζυγιος (syzygios), joined, referring to the paired leaves; pseudofastigiatum is from the Greek ψευδο– (pseudo-), false, and the Latin fastigium, a projecting point, gable, or highest point, and -atus, resembling. The specific was given because of the supposed resemblance of this tree to another member of the genus, Syzygium fastigiatum, that has erect, almost parallel branches clustered together. In the common name, Claudie is the name of a river just south of the Lockhart River in north-east Queensland, on the eastern side of Cape York Peninsula.
This is a fairly rare rainforest tree of the northern part of Cape York Peninsula. It was first described in 1983 by the botanist Bernard Patrick Matthew Hyland (born 1937), who had collected it on the lower reaches of the Rocky River, near Coen. It was published in A Revision of Syzygium and Allied Genera (Myrtaceae) in Australia (CSIRO). In this article, Hyland revised the genus to consist of 52 species and three subspecies, including 16 new species, S. alatoramulum, S. alliiligneum, S. argyropedicum, S. bamagense, S. boonjee, S. canicortex, S. dansiei, S. endophloium, S. macilwraithianum, S. papyraceum, S. pseudofastigiatum, S. rubrimolle, S. sharonae, S. velae, S. wesa, S. xerampelinum, and one new subspecies, S. forte subsp. potamophilum.
The tree photographed, one of several growing on Magnetic Island, has been planted at the southern end of Picnic Street, not far from the entrance to Harry’s Track. In its natural state, this tree is confined to the Cape York Peninsula, south to Massey Creek, occuring in rainforest, particularly in gallery forest, at altitudes below 450 m. It can grow as tall as 35 m.
On the trunk, the outer dead bark is pale brown, and flaky.
The leaf blades are from 7–15 cm long by 3–5 cm broad, with very short petioles. There are a few oil dots, sparsely distributed, visible with a hand lens, and sometimes with the naked eye. The midrib is depressed on the upper surface.
The flowers are small, but the fruits are quite large and, fairly unusually for the Syzygium genus, white in colour. They grow in clusters, and are about 2 cm high, with a diameter of 2.5–3.5 cm. The calyx lobes are persistent, but very small and inconspicuous. The pericarp is succulent, with a texture rather like that of an apple, and said to be tasty, although I have not personally eaten any. There is a solitary seed, up to about 2 cm in diameter.
Altogether we have a dense-crowned tree that would be useful as an ornamental shade tree for parks and for street plantings.
Here on Magnetic Island the tree usually comes into bud in November, and the flowering is over by mid-December. The fruits are ripe by early February, when they drop off the tree and lie in large numbers on the ground underneath.
Due to its recent description, relative rarity, and the fact that it usually grows in sparsely populated areas, this species has not been used commercially for timber. It does produce millable logs, and could probably be sawn into timber for structural use.
Photographs taken in Picnic Bay 2012, 2013
Page last updated 22nd February 2017