Diploglottis diphyllostegia

native tamarind


Diploglottis diphyllostegia

(F.Muell.) F.M. Bailey 1885

pronounced: dip-loh-GLOT-tiss dih-fy-low-STEG-yuh

(Sapindaceae — the soapberry or lychee family)


common names: native tamarind, northern tamarind, wild tamarind

native 4Diploglottis is from the Greek διπλοος (diploos), double, and γλωττα (glotta), a tongue, referring to the double petals; diphyllostegia is derived from δις (dis), twice, φυλλον (phyllon), leaf, foliage, and στεγη (stegé), a roof or cover, referring to the leaves that partially cover the flowers.

This is a rainforest tree endemic to Queensland, occurring on the east coast from Cape York Peninsula south as far as central Queensland. It is found from near sea level to an altitude of about 900 m. The tree photographed grows in the scrub behind the Horseshoe Bay foreshore. It usually grows in well-developed rain forest, but is also found in drier, more seasonal rainforest. It can grow up to about 15 m high or up to 30 m in exceptional circumstances, with a spreading crown on a long trunk.

The pinnate leaves are up to about 40 cm long, with up to 8 pairs of elliptical dark glossy green leaflets. The leaf-bearing twigs, the leaf rachis and the leaflet stalks are clothed in erect brown hairs; the leaf-bearing twigs are longitudinally grooved. The leaflets are about 5 – 9 cm by 2 – 8 cm in size, with wavy margins, the midrib raised, and often hairy on the upper surface. The leaflet stalk is short, and swollen at its junction with the compound leaf rachis.

Small cream flowers, 4 – 5 mm in diameter, with 5 petals (the 5th reduced) and with 8 stamens, are borne in spring, followed by yellow, transversely ellipsoidal or subglobose 3-lobed (or occasionally 2-lobed) fruits about 1 cm in diameter, containing 5 mm brown seeds fully encased in orange arils. The fruits are shortly tomentose externally.

The aril is edible, and is sometimes used to make a refreshing drink. There is some commercial production of the fruit as a bushfood, and it is also made into jam.


Photographs taken in Horseshoe Bay 2014
Page last updated 14th December 2018