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Psychotria poliostemma Benth. 1867
pronounced: sy-KOT-re-uh po-lee-oh-STEM-muh
(Rubiaceae – the gardenia family)
common name: White-fruited Psychotria
Psychotria is derived from the Greek ψυχη (psyché), life, and possibly οτρηρος (otréros), quick; poliostemma is from πολιος (polios), grey, and στεμμα (stemma), a wreath or garland. Published by George Bentham in volume 3 of Flora australiensis, it had been collected at Edgecombe Bay by John Dallachy, and at Mount Elliot, Townsville, by Eugene Fitzalan. As well as in Australia, it is also found in Madagascar.
This plant usually grows as a shrub between a metre and 3 m tall, but sometimes as a s small tree.
The stipules are interpetiolar, with a broad base and a bifid apex. The leaf blades are about 4.5-11.5 cm long, by 2-6.5 cm wide. The lateral veins are curving, and form loops inside the blade margin; the veins are much more easily seen than those of the leaves of Psychotria fitzalanii .
The flowers, growing in axillary clusters, have the outer surfaces of the calyx and corolla covered in fine short hairs. The corolla tube is 2-3 mm long, and the lobes 1.5-2 mm. The throat of the corolla is congested, and very hairy. A flat disk surrounds the base of the style.
The fruits, cream or a very pale yellow in colour, are more-or-less globose, about 7 mm in diameter. The calyx lobes persist. There are 2 seeds per fruit, each 4 or 5 mm long, flattened on one side and convex on the other: the convex side is markedly ribbed.
Endemic to Queensland, the plant is found in Cape York Peninsula, north-east Queensland, and southwards about as far as the border with NSW. At least in its northern reaches, it usually occurs from sea level up to about 100 m in altitude. It grows in vine thickets, monsoon forest and other types of closed forest, often on sand dunes close to the sea.
Photographs taken behind Arcadia July 2016
Page last updated 1st February 2017