Clerodendrum longiflorum var. glabrum

witches' tongues


Clerodendrum longiflorum var. glabrum

Munir 1989

pronounced: kler-oh-DEN-drum long-ih-FOH-lee-um variety GLAB-rum

(Lamiaceae — the lavender family)


common names: witches' tongues, long-flowered clerodendrum

native 4Clerodendrum comes from two Greek words, κληρος (kléros), fate, or chance, and δενδρον (dendron), a tree; longiflorum is from the Latin longus, long, and flora, a flower; glabrum is from glaber, hairless, bald.

This is an evergreen rounded shrub or small tree (to about 3 m tall) from the rainforests of Queensland, the Northern Territory, New Guinea and South-East Asia. In Queensland its range is from Cape York Peninsula southwards along the coast almost to the NSW border. It grows as an understorey tree in both upland and lowland rainforest. One of the plants photographed was growing in the remnant rainforest near the end of Mandalay Avenue in Nelly Bay, and the other near the Forts walk.

It is very similar to its parent Clerodendrum longiflorum, but its flowers are much larger. Its stem seldom exceeds 30 cm DBH, and the bark is often thick and corky. The broadly ovate leaf blades are about 8 – 20 cm in length, and 5 – 10 cm in width. The lateral veins are curved throughout their length, but do not form loops. Sometimes the petiole is purplish.

The flowers (April – May) are in large terminal clusters. There is a small calyx tube about 6 mm long, with lobes about 4 mm long. Out of this emerges a long corolla tube, about 6 cm long, with 5 white petals and the usual protruding stamens of the Clerodendrum genus. The flowers are pleasantly perfumed.

The fruits are purple or almost black at maturity, with the calyx lobes persistent at the base, and these lobes turn red as the fruit matures. The fruits are eaten by many species of birds.

This plant has potential as a garden plant, although it is seldom so used. It is easily cultivated in warm coastal gardens, and prefers a protected position with some shade. It needs some pruning to maintain a pleasing shape. It will grow in sandy soil, clay or loam, and is both drought and frost sensitive.


Photographs taken in Nelly Bay and on the Forts walk 2014
Page last updated 12th November 2018