Micromelum minutum  Wight & Arn. 1834

pronounced: mike-roh-ME-lum min-YOO-tum

(Rutaceae – the lemon family)

common name:  Lime Berry

Micromelum micromelum minutumlime berry micromelum minutum flowersflowersis from two Greek words, μικρος (mikros), small, and μηλον (mélon), apple; minutum is from the Latin minutus, small – a small, small apple.

This is a dense shrub or small tree, up to about 9 m high, but usually no more than 3 m. It grows mainly in drier lowland rainforest, scattered in the understorey, in near-coastal areas of Queensland and the Northern Territory. It used to grow in NSW north from Lismore, but has not been seen there since 1911, and is now listed as ‘presumed extinct’ on the schedule of the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act. It is also found in parts of India, in south-east Asia, Indonesia, and PNG. Here on Magnetic Island, it grows behind the coastal vine scrub, especially at the southern end of Nelly Bay.

micromelum minutum berriesberries The tree is evergreen, its bole straight and sometimes fluted, the bark grey and smooth, the branches tapering, and the twigs hairy.

The thin-textured, dark green, crinkled leaves are imparipinnate, alternate and spiral, 10–45 cm long, with 3–8 pairs of leaflets. These leaflets are 2–10 cm long, 1–6 cm wide, asymmetric, the apex shortly pointed or bluntly acuminate, the base rounded, the margins entire or more-or-less crenulate, the upper surface with numerous raised oil dots. The lower surface is shortly pubescent, with small domatia present in the primary vein axils. The leaf petiole is 2–6 cm long, with the lateral petioles 2–7 mm long. The primary vein is single, the secondary veins oblique, and the tertiary veins reticulate.

The fragrant flowers are arranged in a many-flowered inflorescence, terminal, bisexual, the pedicels up to 3 mm long. The calyx is 5-lobed, about 1 mm long. The petals are about 3 mm long, and greenish-cream. The tree usually flowers from April to August.

The fruit is an ovoid drupe, 1 cm or a little less in length, yellow-orange or orange-red in colour, and fleshy, borne in dense clusters.

In north Thailand, the young shoots are eaten, and an infusion of the leaves is used in the regulation of menstruation and the treatment of fever.

This plant is quite easily propagated from fresh seed, and will grow in full sun or semi-shade. It attracts many butterflies with its sweet nectar, and is a food plant for the larvae of several butterflies, including:

• the Orchard Papilio aegeus;
• the Ambrax Swallowtail Papilio ambrax; and
• the Fuscous Swallowtail Papilio fuscus.

Birds readily eat the small fruit.

The wood is a light colour, and close-grained.

This plant is one of those collected in 1770 by Banks and Solander during the voyage of the Endeavour. It was collected at the Endeavour River (Cooktown).

  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 at Nelly Bay 2010

Page last updated 30th December 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

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