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Grevillea pteridifolia (Family Proteaceae)

Fern-leaved Silky Oak, Golden Grevillea, Yinungkwurra, Darwin Silky Oak


This species has a wide distribution across northern Australia from the Kimberley region in north of Western Australia to Cape York Peninsula and inland central Queensland. The latitudinal range is 11-24o S and the altitudinal range from near sea level to 500 m. (QLD, NT, WA)


A fast-growing, short-lived shrub or small tree, 2-18 m tall. It has an open habit and a single main stem. Young branchlets are hairy. The fern-like leaves are 2-45 cm long with the lower surface silvery and hairy. The bright orange-yellow flowers are 6-12 mm long, forming a toothbrush-like cluster, 8-22 cm long. The oblong fruit is thin-walled, dark brown, 14-21 mm long and about 1 cm wide, with dense hairs on its surface. The seed has wings. Flowering can occur throughout the year but is mainly from May - October and mature fruits are commonly found from July - October. There are about 14 000 viable seeds per kilogram and germination can be improved by soaking the seed for 24 hours in cold water before sowing.

Ecology/Way of Life: >

This grevillea is mainly found in the hot humid zone but extends to warm and hot sub-humid zones. The area is largely frost-free but occasional frosts occur in the southern inland. Mean annual rainfall is 800-1600 mm with a summer maximum. It occurs on low foothills, undulating to flat plains and stony ridges. It is also found along drainage lines, on seasonally flooded areas around swamps and on the exposed slopes of high coastal sand dunes. The soils are mainly stony, sandy or loamy. This species commonly occurs beneath open-forest and woodland dominated by tropical eucalypts such as Eucalyptus tetrodonta and E. polycarpa. In seasonally flooded areas it is found in low woodlands with Lophostemon lactifluus and Banksia dentata.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

Human Interaction / Threats

The wood is of moderate density but is little used. Dried foliage is eaten by stock. Its main use is as a flowering ornamental tree for landscaping and it has proved suitable for revegetating mining sites in India. The flowers produce large quantities of nectar and attract many birds and bees. Aboriginal people suck the flowers for nectar or shake it into water which is then drunk. The flowers may also be eaten.

Other Comments:

Grevillea pteridifolia was named in 1809 by J. Knight; the genus name honours Charles F. Greville (1749-1809), co-founder of the London Horticultural Society; the species name is from the Latin pteris = a fern and folium = leaf, referring to the fern-like leaves.

Further Reading:

Brock, J. 2001. Native plants of northern Australia. Reed New Holland, Sydney.

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.

McGillivray, D.J. 1993. Grevillea-Proteaceae. Melbourne University Press and Miegunyah Press Series, Melbourne. 465p.

Topics: Aboriginal resources Fodder Germination Honey Plant structure Soils Pollination Timber Vegetation types


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

Sponsored by:

David Kleinig/ACIAR


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