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Ixora timorensis Decne. 1834
pronounced: iks-OR-uh tee-mor-EN-siss
(Rubiaceae – the gardenia family)
pronounced: iks-OR-uh klan-der-ee-AR-nuh, iks-OR-uh KOK-ee-eye
common name: Native Ixora
Ixora is named after Iswara, a Malabar deity; timorensis is botanical Latin for ‘occurring in Timor’. I have not been able to trace the Klander of the first synonym. Jan Willem Reinier Kock (1860-1924) was a Dutch physician who accompanied a New Guinea expedition under the auspices of the Royal Dutch Geographical Society, during which he collected anthropological, ethnological, botanical and zoological material.
This plant is an Australian native, having been collected by Banks and Solander in the Endeavour River area, near present-day Cooktown, in 1770. It is a shrub or small tree 4-8 m high (and seldom exceeding 30 cm DBH) that grows as an understorey tree in beach forest and monsoon forest, and in the drier rainforest. Unlike the cultivated Ixoras with coloured flowers, this wild one has a strongly wafting vanilla-honey perfume, that lingers heavily in the air in the early morning and evening.
In Australia, it is found in the Northern Territory, Cape York Peninsula, and north-east Queensland, at an altitudinal range from sea level to about 200 m. The tree is also found in the East Indies, hence the timorensis.
The opposite dark green leaves, oblanceolate in shape and with wavy edges, are about 10-20 cm by 4-9 cm in size, thin-textured, and the petiole is shallowly channeled on the upper surface. The stipules taper to a fine point, and are 5–8 mm long; a horizontal line of hairs is usually visible on the twigs just above each stipular scar. The petiole is shallowly channelled on the upper surface.
The white flowers are in large loose panicles at the ends of the branches, and have 4 petals. The flowers stand well clear of the branches, and the petals change to a cream colour as they age. The calyx lobes are very small, less than 0.5 mm long, and the calyx tube is minutely pubescent. The corolla tube is about 5-7 mm long, with lobes 4-6mm long; the corolla is glabrous on the outside, but the tube is hairy on the inner surface near the apex. The anthers are completely exserted beyond the corolla tube at anthesis. The upper half of the style is pubescent.
The fruits are black when mature, globular, up to 1 cm in diameter, succulent, and edible.
The wild Ixora can be propagared from either seeds or cuttings.
Photographs taken in Picnic Bay, 2009-2016
Page last updated 26th November 2018