R.Br. ex G.Don
(Labill.) R.Br. ex G.Don
Nuytsia floribunda is a hemiparasitic plant found in Western Australia. The species is known locally as the Christmas tree, displaying bright flowers during the Christmas season. The Noongar names for the plant are moojar, moojerool, munjah and mutyal.
The habit of the species is a tree up to 10 metres (33 ft) high, or as a shrub. The rough bark is grey-brown. Flowers are a vivid yellow-orange, appearing between October and January.
It is a root hemiparasite, is photosynthetic and mainly obtains water and mineral nutrients from its hosts. The haustoria arising from the roots of Nuytsia attach themselves to roots of many nearby plants and draw water and therefore nutrients from them. Almost all species are susceptible to attack; haustoria have even been found attached to underground cables. In natural settings Nuytsia withdraws relatively little from each individual host, but is attached to so many other plants that the benefit to this hemiparasitic tree is likely to be considerable.
The first description of Nuytsia floribunda was published by Jacques Labillardière in his 1805 work Novae Hollandiae Plantarum Specimen, as Loranthus floribundus, the specific epithet describing the profuse flowers he would have observed at Esperance. The botanist Robert Brown published a remark on the species in 1831, giving a new genus name without a formal description. The description was published by George Don using Brown's name Nuytsia, an epithet that commemorates the seventeenth-century Dutch explorer and colonial official Pieter Nuyts.
Distribution and habitat
Nuytsia floribunda is well known in Southwest Australia, especially due to the appearance of abundant flowers in summer which is a spectacular display. Although Nuytsia seeds germinate readily and seedlings are easy to grow for a year or two, cultivation of the species to maturity is regarded as difficult, with little success outside of its native habitat. It appears on a variety of soil types throughout Southwest Australia, the distribution of the species extends to the east of the Esperance Plain and to the north on the Geraldton Sandplains. (Distribution records: The Australian Virtual Herbarium.)
The Nyungar people made use of the species during the season Kambarang, around October to early December, obtaining bark to make shields. The gum that exudes from the wound can be collected later, it is sweet and eaten raw.
In Australian media
- Nuytsia (journal) – The Western Australian Herbarium journal
- Metrosideros excelsa, New Zealand Christmas tree
- Atkinsonia, a closely related parasitic shrub
- "Nuytsia floribunda". Australian Plant Name Index (APNI), IBIS database. Canberra, Australian Capital Territory: Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian Government. Retrieved 1 December 2014.
- "Noongar names for plants". kippleonline.net. Archived from the original on 20 November 2016. Retrieved 11 December 2016.
- Calladine, Ainsley; Pate, John S. (2000). "Haustorial structure and functioning of the root hemiparasitic tree Nuytsia floribunda (Labill.) R.Br. and water relationships with its hosts". Annals of Botany. 85 (6): 723–731. doi:10.1006/anbo.2000.1130.
- "Loranthus floribundus". Australian Plant Name Index (APNI), IBIS database. Canberra, Australian Capital Territory: Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian Government. Retrieved 1 December 2014.
- Various authors (1998). Ken Wallace; Janette Huston, eds. Exploring Woodlands with Nyoongars (2 ed.). Department of Conservation and Land Management. p. 41. ISBN 0-7309-6847-2.
- "Nuytsia Floribunda". Australian Town and Country Journal. Sydney. 12 September 1874. p. 16. Retrieved 1 December 2014 – via National Library of Australia.
- "No. 27 CHRISTMAS TREE (NUYTSIA FLORIBUNDA)". Western Mail. Perth. 20 October 1921. p. 30. Retrieved 1 December 2014 – via National Library of Australia.
- "OUR WILDFLOWERS". The West Australian. Perth. 21 December 1928. p. 8. Retrieved 2 January 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
- "CHRISTMAS FLOWERS". The West Australian. Perth. 23 December 1933. p. 18. Retrieved 1 December 2014 – via National Library of Australia.
- "Nuytsia Florabunda". Western Mail. Perth. 27 July 1939. p. 20. Retrieved 1 December 2014 – via National Library of Australia.
- "NUYTSIA FLORIBUNDA". Western Mail. Perth. 20 November 1941. p. 49. Retrieved 1 December 2014 – via National Library of Australia.
- Association of Societies for Growing Australian Plants (ASGAP) Nuytsia floribunda
- "Nuytsia floribunda". FloraBase. Western Australian Government Department of Parks and Wildlife.
- Thomas Göbel: Heilpflanzen gegen Krebs und Psychose, Nuytsia Floribunda und Viscum Album, Betrachtung und Beurteilung zweier polarer Pflanzencharaktere und ihre Anwendungsmöglichkeiten. Verlag Freies Geistesleben, Stuttgart/Germany 2004, ISBN 3-7725-2230-0 (German language)
- Media related to Nuytsia floribunda at Wikimedia Commons