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Elaeocarpus angustifolius (Family Elaeocarpaceae)

Silver Quandong, blue quandong, blueberry ash, caloon, blue fig

Distribution:

This species occurs from India to New Caledonia and in Australia is found mainly near the coast in Queensland and New South Wales. There is a small isolated occurrence in the Northern Territory. The latitudinal range in Australia is 10-31o S and the altitudinal range from near sea level to 800 m. (NT, QLD, NSW)

Features:

A fast-growing, tall pioneer tree in tropical rainforest, reaching to 40 m, with wide-spreading buttresses up to 6 m up the trunk. The bark is light grey and finely fissured. The crown is thin with leaves mostly at the end of the branches. Branchlets have fine hairs and prominent leaf scars. The leaves are finely toothed, glossy dark green above, paler beneath, 6-18 cm long, 2.5-5 cm wide on a short flattened stalk. There are 12-36 hanging white, cream or green flowers in clusters. Flowering time is variable and may be more than once a year. The fruit is fleshy, bright blue or purple, globular, 15-30 mm in diameter and usually includes 2-5 seeds. There are about 220 fruits per kilogram. Germination of fresh seed may be slow, and less than 20%.

Ecology/Way of Life:

This tree is distributed mainly in the warm humid zone in the south and the warm humid and hot humid zones in the north. Frosts are rare. The mean annual rainfall is 1200-2400 mm with a well-defined summer maximum and no prolonged dry seasons. This species is usually found near watercourses or in gullies in foothills and uplands. It also occurs on coastal plains where there is poor drainage. It grows on a wide range of soil types derived from metamorphic and volcanic rocks. It is a component of tropical and subtropical rainforest with species such as Alstonia scholaris, Cardwellia sublimis and Castanospermum australe.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

The heartwood is white to pale brown with a pinkish tinge. It is easy to work, nails and glues well and is good for steam-bending but is not suitable for outdoor use unless treated with preservatives. It has been made into decorative veneer, plywood, furniture and has been used in boat building. The fruits were a source of food for Aboriginal people and are also important for native birds. The deeply pitted seed was used for ornament, such as necklaces.

Other Comments:

Elaeocarpus angustifolius was named in 1825 by Karl Ludvig Blume, a Dutch botanist who worked in Java, Indonesia. Later he became Professor of Botany at Leiden University. First described as Elaeocarpus grandis by F. Mueller; the genus name is formed from the Greek elaia = an olive tree, and karpos = fruit, and the species name is from the Latin angustus = narrow and folium = leaf , which describes the leaf shape.

Further Reading:

Boland, D.J., Brooker, M.I.H., Chippendale, G.M., Hall, N., Hyland, B.P.M., Kleinig, D.A., Johnston, R.D. and Turner, J.D. 1984. Forest trees of Australia. 4th ed. Nelson and CSIRO, Melbourne. 687p.

Doran, J.C. and Turnbull, J.W. (eds.) 1997. Australian trees and shrubs; species for land rehabilitation and farm planting in the tropics. ACIAR Monograph no. 24. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Canberra. 384p.

Floyd, A.G. 1989. Rainforest trees of mainland southeastern Australia. Inkata Press, Melbourne. 420p.

Tracey, J.G. 1982. The vegetation of the humid tropical region. CSIRO, Melbourne. 124p.

Topics: Timber Plant structure Bush tucker Climatic zones Soils Vegetation types Timber Aboriginal resources Germination Aboriginal resources

Acknowledgments:

Text & map from Australian Trees and Shrubs, courtesy Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research; text edited by J. Turnbull; photo courtesy J. Lamour.

Sponsored by:

John Lamour/ACIAR


 

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