Corchorus hygrophilus

native jute


Corchorus hygrophilus

A.Cunn. ex Benth. 1863

pronounced: KOR-koh-russ high-grow-FY-luss

(Malvaceae — the hibiscus family)


common name: native jute

native 4Corchorus is from the Greek κορχορυς (korchorus), thought to be another name for αναγαλλις 'η κυανη (anagallis he kyané), the blue pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis ssp. foemina); hygrophilus is from two Greek words, 'υγρος (hygros), wet, moist, fluid, and φιλος (philos), loved, beloved – lover of moisture.

The genus was first described by Linnaeus in Species Plantarum (1753), and since then has hovered uncertainly between a number of plant families, including Capparaceae, Cistaceae, Papaveracae, and Tiliaceae. Members of the genus are found in tropical and subtropical regions around the world. Fibres are extracted from most members, and the leaves of many are used in various countries as a vegetable.

Ours is a rare little native plant, found only in Queensland, in isolated populations between Magnetic Island and Mundubbera in central Queensland. It occurs on vine forest margins or in sclerophyll forest adjacent to vine forest, usually growing among boulders and on soils derived from granite or limestone. The type species was found at Cleveland Bay in June, 1819, by the explorer Alan Cunningham. The plants illustrated here were photographed on the edge of the Gustav Creek vine forest in Nelly Bay.

It is an ascending herb or subshrub that grows to about 50 cm tall. The branchlets are glabrous or sparsely hairy. The leaves are alternate, narrow ovate or broad ovate in shape, with serrate margins. They are 3 – 12 cm long by 1 – 7 cm wide, and are either glabrous, or have scattered hairs on both surfaces of the leaf. The petioles are 1 – 2 cm long and glabrous, apart from a line of short curly hairs on the upper surface.

Yellow flowers are borne in clusters of 6 – 8 opposite the junction of the leaf stalk and stem, on a stalk 3 – 5 mm long. Each flower has 4 obovate petals, each about 6 – 8 mm long by 3 – 4 mm wide. There are also 4 sepals.

The fruits are capsules, broadly ellipsoid to globular in shape, with slight wart-like projections on the outer surface. They measure from 7 to 12 mm in length, and 5 to 7 mm in diameter. They contain numerous seeds. These are discoid in shape, 2 – 3 mm long, and from matt dark brown to black in colour.


Photographed in Nelly Bay 2018
Page last updated 25th November 2018