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Eidothea hardeniana Nightcap Oak leaves.jpg
Eidothea hardeniana
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
Order: Proteales
Family: Proteaceae
Subfamily: Proteoideae
Genus: Eidothea
A.W.Douglas & B.Hyland[1][2][3]
Type species
Eidothea zoexylocarya
A.W.Douglas & B.Hyland

See text.

Eidothea is a genus of two species of rainforest trees in New South Wales and Queensland, in eastern Australia, constituting part of the plant family Proteaceae.[1][2][4] The plant family Proteaceae was named after the shape-shifting god Proteus of Greek Mythology. The genus name Eidothea refers to one of the three daughters of Proteus.[5]

In 1883 German-Australian botanist Ferdinand von Mueller named fossil seeds Xylocaryon lockii from Miocene age sediments excavated in old gold mining sites in Victoria; they match those of Eidothea and are thought to represent the modern plant.[6][7]

Eidothea is known from geographic areas separated by more than 1,000 km (620 mi), the mountains of the Wet Tropics of north-eastern Queensland, the Nightcap Range area of north-eastern New South Wales and as the fossils from southern Victoria, much further to the south,[2][8] underlining the fact that Australia’s rainforests are tiny remnants of ancient rainforests that millions of years ago covered large parts of Australia. This makes them a particularly precious part of Australia's natural heritage.


The family Proteaceae also includes more well known members such as the waratahs, grevilleas, banksias, macadamias and proteas. Proteaceae is a very old family of flowering plants which probably originated while the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana was still undivided. Gondwana consisted of what are now the continents of Australia, Africa, South America and Antarctica, as well as smaller bits and pieces such as New Zealand, New Caledonia and Madagascar. Gondwana began splitting up over 120 million years ago and the fragments carried a diverse array of plants and animals with them, including a variety of lineages of the Proteaceae. Eidothea is the only relic of one of those early lineages that has barely survived in the rainforests of eastern Australia. Other lineages went on to diversify spectacularly, resulting in hundreds of descendant species.[8][9]

Eidothea lies within the subfamily Proteoideae, which contain such plants as Protea, Leucadendron, Leucospermum, and most other South African Proteaceae, Isopogon (Australian ‘drumsticks’), Adenanthos (Australian jugflowers), Petrophile (Australian ‘conesticks’), Conospermum (Australian smoke-bushes).[2][8][9]


Two living species are known:


  1. ^ a b Douglas, Andrew W.; Hyland, Bernie P. M. (1995). "Eidothea A.W.Douglas & B.Hyland". In McCarthy, P. M. Flora of Australia: Volume 16: Eleagnaceae, Proteaceae 1 (online version). Flora of Australia series. CSIRO Publishing / Australian Biological Resources Study. pages 472, 127-128. ISBN 978-0-643-05692-3. Retrieved 4 Nov 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d Weston, Peter H.; Kooyman, R. M. (2002). "Systematics of Eidothea (Proteaceae), with the description of a new species, E. hardeniana, from the Nightcap Range, north-eastern New South Wales" (PDF). Telopea. 9: 821–832. Retrieved 6 Nov 2013. [permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "Eidothea%". Australian Plant Name Index (APNI), Integrated Botanical Information System (IBIS) database (listing by % wildcard matching of all taxa relevant to Australia). Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian Government. Retrieved 4 Nov 2013. 
  4. ^ Douglas, Andrew W.; Hyland, Bernie P. M. (1995). "Proteaceae subfam. Eidotheoideae A.W.Douglas & B.Hyland". In McCarthy, P. M. Flora of Australia: Volume 16: Eleagnaceae, Proteaceae 1 (online version). Flora of Australia series. CSIRO Publishing / Australian Biological Resources Study. pages 127–129. ISBN 978-0-643-05692-3. Retrieved 4 Nov 2013. 
  5. ^ From the name of the Ancient Greek mythological figure Εἰδοθέᾱ, daughter of Proteus
  6. ^ Mueller, F. von (1883). Observations on New Vegetable fossils of the Auriferous Drifts. Second Decade. Melbourne: Geological Survey of Victoria. pp. 3–. Retrieved 10 Nov 2013. 
  7. ^ Greenwood, D. R.; Vadala, A. J.; Douglas, J. G. (2000). "Victorian Paleogene and Neogene macrofloras: a conspectus". Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria. 112 (1): 65–92. Retrieved 10 Nov 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c Weston, Peter H.; Kooyman, R. M. (2002). "Eidothea hardeniana- Botany and Ecology of the 'Nightcap Oak'". Australian Plants. Australian Plants Society. 21: 339–342. Archived from the original on 2013-11-10. Retrieved 6 Nov 2013. 
  9. ^ a b Hoot, S. B.; Douglas, A. W. (1998). "Phylogeny of the Proteaceae based on atpB and atpB-rbcL intergenic spacer region sequences". Australian Systematic Botany. 11 (4): 301–320. doi:10.1071/SB98027. Retrieved 10 Nov 2013.