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Antidesma parvifolium F.Muell. 1864
pronounced: an-tee-DEZ-muh par-vee-FOH-lee-um
(Phyllanthaceae – the Phyllanthus family)
common name: Currant Bush
Antidesma is derived from the Greek αντι (anti), opposite, against, and δεσμα (desma), a plural word for bonds, fetters or any constriction, referring to the use of Antidesma bunius as an anti-venom in India; parvifolium is Latin, parvus, small, and folium, a leaf.
This plant, a small bushy shrub with dense foliage, is probably endemic to Australia. It usually flowers and fruits as a shrub 2 – 3 m tall, but occasionally grows larger than this. It is dioecious, and semi-deciduous, occurring in coastal scrubs, woodland and vine thickets across Queensland and the Northern Territory. The bark is smooth, and grey in colour.
The leaves are rather small, less than 2 cm long by 1 cm wide, oval-shaped with a blunt end, light green in colour, and often produced in tight, whorl-like spirals. The twigs are slender, and slightly pubescent when young. There are stipules, and these are small and inconspicuous, only about 1 mm long. Apart from the midrib, the veins are quite hard to distinguish, but they form loops. Domatia are visible only on juvenile leaves.
Male flowers, about 1 mm in diameter at anthesis, are borne in spikes up to about 2.5 cm long. The disk is pale yellow, comparatively large, and produced inside the anther filaments. The anthers are more-or-less U-shaped in cross-section.
The female flowers are smaller, and are borne in racemes either terminally or in the upper axils. Staminodes are found under the disk, and the ovules are attached to one side of the ovary. Flowering usually occurs between November and January.
The fruits, ripening to a dark purple, are tiny, only about 4 mm in diameter, laterally compressed, and containing a single hard seed. Their juice stains the fingers purple. Jam can be made from the fruits, but a great many of these little fruits will need to be collected to make a worthwhile quantity.
The plant can be propagated either from cuttings or from seed.
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 in Picnic Bay 2016
Page last updated 15th July 2018