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Cyclophyllum coprosmoides (F. Muell.) S.T.Reynolds & R.J.F.Hend. 2001
pronounced: sy-kloh-FILL-um kop-ross-MOY-deez
(Rubiaceae — the gardenia family)
synonym: Canthium coprosmoides F. Muell.1861
pronounced: KAN-thee-um kop-ross-MOY-deez
common names: Coast Canthium, Supple Jack, Sweet Susie
Cyclophyllum comes from the Greek κυκλος (kyklos), a circle, and φυλλον (phyllon), leaf, foliage, coprosmoides from Coprosma, a shrub with similar leaves (which in turn comes from κοπρος (kopros), dung, a farm-yard) and –οιδες (oides) like; canthium is rather obscure, but may possibly come from ακανθα (akantha), a thorn, prickle.
This is an understorey shrub or small tree up to about 10 m tall, seen growing on the fringes of a variety of rainforest situations, from the islands of the Torres Strait down to Jervis Bay in NSW. It is most often found as a tall shrub in subtropical rainforest, monsoon forest, littoral rainforest, and adjacent tall open eucalypt forest, where it has access to more sunlight. When it grows in dense shade, it becomes a tall spindly tree, but with some sunlight it develops long arching branches that seek out the light. It is a hardy plant, and can tolerate a fair amount of salty wind along the coast.
The leaves are opposite, to 10 cm in length, with domatia. New leaves are bright green and soft, and are often attacked by leaf miners, causing the leaves to curl. There are stipules on the twig between the leaf pairs.
The white flowers, formed in the leaf axils in groups of up to 8, are highly perfumed, and usually form from January to March. As the flowers age, they turn a golden brown. They have 5 petals, partly fused to form a corolla tube. The tips of the petals and the throat of the tube bear erect hairs, white at first, becoming yellow with age. Most of the pollination is done by butterflies that are attracted to the nectar.
The fruit is a fleshy orange or red drupe a little under 1 cm in diameter, seen from October to December. Within the fruit are usually 2 seeds, each one within the 2 lobes of the hard capsule, surrounded by a glossy red aril. The mature fruits are edible, and are eaten by many birds, especially the green catbird and the wompoo fruit dove. Eventually they pass the seeds, usually well away from the parent tree.
It is believed that the fruits were eaten raw by the indigenous peoples, but the taste is not very pleasant.
The plant was formerly included in the Canthium genus, but this has now been split into three genera, primarily on differences in the flower characteristics: Canthium, Everistia and Cyclophyllum.
Photographs taken on the Forts walk 2013
Page last updated 17th March 2018