Pittosporum ferrugineum  W.T.Aiton 1811 ssp. linifolium

pronounced: pit-oh-SPOR-um fer-oo-GIN-ee-um subspecies lin-ih-FOH-lee-um

(Pittosporaceae – the pittosporum family)

common name:  Rusty Pittosporum

Pittosporum pittosporum ferrugineum ssp linifoliumrusty pittosporum pittosporum ferrugineum ssp linifoliumflowersis derived from two Greek words, πιττα or πισσα (pitta, pissa),  pitch, and σπορος (sporos), a seed; ferrugineum is from the Latin ferrugineus, the colour of iron rust, referring to the indumentum; linifolium is also from the Latin, linum, flax and folium, a leaf.

This plant is widespread from South-east Asia through Malesia and Melanesia to northern Australia. Banks and Solander collected it on Palm Island in 1770. It is generally found in littoral rainforest as well as out in exposed sites. It is a very common tree on Christmas Island, where it grows on upper terraces and on the plateau, favouring full sun and poor, dry soil conditions; it is commonly found in abandoned mining sites.

pittosporum ferrugineum ssp linifolium fruit formingfruit forming pittosporum ferrugineum ssp linifolium in fruitin fruitThis is a small spreading tree to 6 m tall. The leaves are narrowly elliptic, cuneate at base, entire, slightly undulating, acute to slightly acuminate, rusty-pubescent when young, later becoming almost glabrous. The lamina is 5–20 cm long, the petiole 1–2 cm. They tend to be clustered at the ends of twigs.

The inflorescence is either a terminal or an axillary clustered globular panicle, corymbose to umbel-like; the peduncle is pubescent. The flowers are occasionally unisexual, and they are scented. The 5 sepals are free, lanceolate, acute to acuminate, rusty-pubescent. The 5 petals are free, ligulate or widened towards the apex, 6–8 mm long, acute, and yellowish white. The flowers attract birds and bees.

pittosporum ferrugineum ssp linifolium fruitfruit detail pittosporum ferrugineum ssp linifolium fruits openingfruits openingThe fruit is a woody seed capsule, globose-ellipsoidal, 2-valved, and orange; the valves are about 7–10 mm long, 9–12 mm wide, notched at the apex. It bursts on ripening to expose the seeds. There are 8–24 seeds, bright red-coated, viscid and coherent. These seeds are probably dispersed by birds. The Pittosporum (pitch-seed) name of the genus is due to this stickiness of the seeds.

Rusty Pittosporum is sometimes planted as a street tree. Care should be taken in siting the tree, as its roots are somewhat invasive.

pittosporum ferrugineum ssp linifolium seedsfruit pittosporum ferrugineum ssp linifolium seedsseeds Photographs  taken 2010 Nelly Bay, 2012, 2013 Arcadia

Page last updated 22nd January 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

Website by Abraham Multimedia