Cryptocarya triplinervis

three-veined laurel


Cryptocarya triplinervis var. triplinervis

R.Br. 1810

pronounced: krip-toh-KAIR-yuh trip-lee-NER-viss

(Lauraceae — the laurel family)

common names: three-veined laurel, native laurel, brown laurel

Cryptocarya is from the Greek κρυπτω (krypto), to hide, and καρυον (karyon), a nut – the seed being hidden in the perianth tube; triplinervis is from τριπλους (triplous), threefold, and νευρον (neuron), a sinew, referring to the three leaf-veins.

This is a small-to-medium tree to 15 m high (occasionally 20 m) and with a DBH of 60 cm, usually found in littoral and riverine rainforest, although the specimen photographed is growing in the sandy soil among the boulders at the base of Nobby Point, Picnic Bay. There is another variety, var. pubens, that grows at higher altitudes by streams, on volcanic or alluvial soils. The natural range of distribution is from Smoky Cape, NSW (30ºS), to the Daintree (16ºS). It also occurs on Lord Howe Island, where it is known as the Blackbutt. The bark is grey-brown, mostly smooth, with lines of vertical bumps running up the trunk.

The leaves are alternate, broad-lanceolate to ovate, 5 – 19 cm long by 2 – 4 cm wide, dark glossy green above, paler and hairy below. They are aromatic when crushed. Three-veined, the mid-vein is depressed on the upper side and raised on the lower side of the leaf; net veins are easily seen on the underside. The leaf stalks are about 1 cm long.

The tree bears tiny (3 mm) pale green fragrant flowers on short-stemmed panicles from September to December. The fruit, a purple-black drupe 8–10 mm across, and somewhat longitudinally ribbed, has a single large seed inside.

The timber is grey, close-grained, tough and hard, but it is little used because of its small size. In the past it has been used for making cases.

With its dense crown of dark green leaves, this would be an attractive small tree for medium-sized gardens. The fruit attracts birds, especially the topknot pigeon Lopholaimus antarcticus, and the tree is a host plant for the caterpillars of a number of Lepidoptera, including:

     • the Emperor Gum Moth Opodiphthera eucalypti;
     • the Common Bluebottle or Blue Triangle Graphium sarpedon;
     • the Orange Emperor Charaxes latona;
     • Macleay's Swallowtail Graphium macleayanus; and
     • the Golden Notodontid Neola semiaurata.

Photographs taken in Picnic Bay 2012, Nelly Bay 2014
Page last updated 3rd December 2018