Streblus brunonianus

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Streblus brunonianus
Streblus brunonianus Allyn River.JPG
Whalebone tree in a jungle understorey at the Allyn River, Barrington Tops, Australia
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Moraceae
Tribe: Moreae
Genus: Streblus
Species: S. brunonianus
Binomial name
Streblus brunonianus
(Endl.) F.Muell.
  • Pseudomorus brunoniana Bur.
  • Streblus pendulinus (Endl.) F.Muell.

Streblus brunonianus known as the whalebone tree is a small tree in the fig family. Commonly seen in a variety different types of rainforest, particularly by streams.

Streblus brunonianus occurs from near Milton (35° S) in the southern Illawarra district of New South Wales to Cape York Peninsula at the top of Australia. It also occurs in New Guinea and other Pacific Islands.

Other common names include the white handlewood, axe-handle wood, grey handlewood and prickly fig.


Streblus brunonianus flowers

A large shrub or small tree. However, rarely it can grow to a large tree, 30 metres tall and 40 cm in trunk diameter. The trunk is mostly cylindrical or flanged. The bark is brown, featuring lines of vertical pustules.

Leaves are thin with a long pointed tip. 5 to 8 cm long, alternate and simple. Usually finely toothed. The underside of the leaf is hairy, the top is glossy and mid green in colour. Leaf venation is more evident on the undersurface. Unlike in other species, the lateral veins do not terminate in leaf serrations.

Flowers appear from September to May. Male flowers on spikes, female flowers on small clusters or spikes. The fruit matures from January to May, being a yellow coloured berry, 4 to 6 mm long. Round pale coloured seeds 3 mm in diameter.

Germination from fresh seed occurs without difficulty within seven weeks. The fruit is eaten by birds including the brown cuckoo dove, green catbird, Lewin's honeyeater, rose crowned fruit dove and topknot pigeon.