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Jasminum didymum var. racemosum (F.Muell.) P.S.Green 1984
pronounced: JAZ-mih-num DID-ee-mum variety rass-ee-MO-sum
(Oleaceae — the olive family)
common name: Native Jasmine
Jasminum is the Latinized form for the Jasmine plant; didymum is from the Greek διδυμος (didymos), double or twin, referring to the fact that the fruits usually appear in pairs; racemosus means ‘with racemes’.
This scrambling shrub or climber is native to tropical Australia, Africa and Asia. As a shrub it can grow to about 4 m tall, but as a climber, climbing on any adjacent tree, it can occasionally reach up to 15 m.
Most of the glossy green glabrous leaves have 3 leaflets. The leaflets are ovate or broadly lanceolate to broadly oblong-elliptic, rounded at the base, acute or rounded at the apex, usually with hairy domatia in the axils towards the leaflet base. The terminal leaflet is 2–5 cm long and 1.5–4.5 cm wide, with the lateral leaflets slightly smaller.
The inflorescences are axillary, cymose, usually 1–5- flowered. The calyx tube is 1–3 mm long, with 5 lobes. The corolla is red or purplish outside, whitish on the inner surface; the tube just under 1 cm long, 5–lobed, the lobes 3–5 mm long. These star-shaped flowers are delicately perfumed. They are used to flavour tea and food such as rice, especially in Asia.
The flowers are followed by globular, black fleshy fruit, 5–6 mm in diameter. These are favoured by many fruit-eating birds.
This creeping plant, very common on Magnetic Island, is found creeping up (usually small) trees, and bunching out into quite dense clumps of flowers and foliage, very often at about eye-level, especially in the forest.
This was one of the plants collected by Sir Joseph Banks and his colleagues during the voyage of Endeavour.
Photographs taken in Picnic Bay 2008-2015
Page last updated 16th Deember 2016