Garuga floribunda

garuga tree


Garuga floribunda

Decne. 1834

pronounced: gih-RU-guh floh-rih-BUN-duh

(Burseraceae — the myrrh family)


common name: garuga

native 4Garuga is the name of the genus in the Telugu language of the Coromandel Coast of southern India. The Telugu name most probably describes Garuga pinnata, a similar, though much larger tree, common in the area where this language is spoken. Floribunda is from the Latin floribundum, flower-bearing.

This small tree is indigenous from India to western China, to the islands of south-east Asia, to the Pacific Islands, and to northern Australia. Here it occurs in Western Australia, in Cape York Peninsula, and in north-east Queensland as far south as about Townsville. It has not yet been reported in the Northern Territory, where its occurrence is to be expected.

It grows at an altitudinal range from sea level to about 400 m, and sometimes higher. It usually grows in rainforest and drier monsoon forest, and in lower montane rain forest and coastal forest. It is often found growing on limestone hills, and on stony, sandy or clayey soils. Trees pictured are on Hawkings Point, in the Gustav Creek vine forest, and at the foot of the walkway leading from Geoffrey Bay to Nelly Bay.

It grows 8 – 12 m high (much higher, up to 36 m, in parts of New Guinea), with thick branches. The bark is flaky, and the blaze reddish. The bole is buttressed in large specimens, and can be as great as 90 cm in diameter, unbranched for 20 - 25 m. It is deciduous in the dry season, which is its main flowering time.

The leaves are imparipinnate, 10 – 30 cm long, spiral, crowded at the ends of the branches. There are 7 or 8 (occasional to 10) pairs of opposite leaflets, oblong-lanceolate in shape. The petiolule of the lateral leaflets is up to 4 mm long, the terminal one to 2 cm. The laminae are dark green above and a lighter green below, the base oblique, the margin serrate, the apex acuminate, 5 - 10 or more cm long by 3 - 5 cm broad. There are stipules, leaf-like, but they do not persist. The leaflets individually turn red before falling.

After the deciduous period, the flowers appear before the new leaves. The individual flowers are greenish white, hairy, about 3 - 5 mm in diameter, borne in dense terminal or axillary panicles 20–30 cm across. The calyx lobes are about 1 mm long, the corolla lobes about 2 mm long. The receptacle is cup-shaped, about 2.5 mm long. The staminal filaments are attached to the apex of the receptacle. The ovary is shortly stalked, and both ovary and style are clothed in long erect hairs, at right angles to the axis. The stigma is green, and 5-lobed.

The dark green to blue fruits are drupes, egg-shaped, rough, about 10- 15 by 11 - 17 mm. The seeds are angular.

In India, much medicinal use is made of Garuga pinnata. A decoction of the roots is used to treat pulmonary infections. The juice of the stems is said to be useful for opacity of the cornea. The juice of the leaves is a treatment for asthma. The fruits are not only eaten, but are said to be an aid to digestion, to remove the discomfort of wind in the digestive tract, and to be an effective treatment for roundworm. Galls that grow on the twigs are used to treat obesity, enlargement of the spleen, ulcers and toothache.

The timber is used for general construction, bridge-building, posts, light duty flooring, furniture and cabinet work, interior trim, mouldings, shelving, skirting boards, sporting goods, agricultural implements, boxes and crates, carvings, toys, and also for wood-turning. Veneer and plywood are also sometimes produced from it. In many places it is also used for fuel.
Propagation is from seed, and the tree is sometimes used as a living fence around plantations.

A dye is made from the leaves, and is used to dye mats made from Corypha leaves. It turns them black.


Information about medicinal qualities of plants, or about their use as medicines, is for interest only, and is not intended to be used as a guide for the treatment of medical conditions.


Photographs taken on Hawkings Point 2009, Nelly Bay & Geoffrey Bay 2016
Page last updated 4th January 2019