|Pencil cedar at Berrico Trig, Barrington Tops, Australia|
Polyscias murrayi, known as the pencil cedar is a very common rainforest tree of eastern Australia.
It occurs as a secondary regeneration species in disturbed rainforest areas, often on hillsides. The tree is identified by cylindrical trunk; abruptly forking into many branches, and supporting an impressive dark canopy.
Other common names include the umbrella tree, white basswood and pencilwood. The range of natural distribution is from the Howe Range, just over the border in the state of Victoria (37° S), up through New South Wales and to Atherton, Queensland (17° S). It also occurs in New Guinea.
A small to medium size tree, growing to 25 metres tall and with a trunk diameter of 50 cm. It is unbranched at the end of the main trunk, then breaks out into a many branched crown. The cylindrical trunk is mostly smooth, greyish or brown. The base of the tree is not flanged, fluted nor buttressed.
Leaves are alternate and pinnate with 8 to 30 leaflets. Opposite on the leaf stalk, entire or toothed, ovate lanceolate in shape, 8 to 15 cm long. However, leaves may be much larger on younger trees. Leaf stalks up to 120 cm long, leaflet stalks 3 to 8 mm long. Between each pair of leaflets on the leaf stalk, a gland may be seen. The midrib is white or paler green, raised under the leaf. Leaf venation is more easily seen on the top of the leaf.
Creamy green flowers form on stalks on umbels in the months of February to March. The fruit is a blue drupe, usually with two lobes, sometimes three. Fruit matures from April to June. Germination from fresh seed is slow.
Polyscias murrayi is useful to bush regenerators as a nursery tree, which provides shade for longer lived young trees underneath. It is also an attractive ornamental tree.
- Floyd, A.G., Rainforest Trees of Mainland South-eastern Australia, Inkata Press 1989, ISBN 0-909605-57-2 page 74
- Henwood M.J. & R.O. Makinson (1993). "Polyscias murrayi – New South Wales Flora Online". PlantNET - The Plant Information Network System. 2.0. Sydney, Australia: The Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust. Retrieved 14 Nov 2012.
- Hyland, B. P. M.; Whiffin, T.; Zich, F. A.; et al. (Dec 2010). "Factsheet – Polyscias murrayi". Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants. Edition 6.1, online version [RFK 6.1]. Cairns, Australia: Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), through its Division of Plant Industry; the Centre for Australian National Biodiversity Research; the Australian Tropical Herbarium, James Cook University. Retrieved 15 Mar 2013.