Monday, December 19, 2005

The Pittosporum genus Joel Plumb

The genus consists of evergreen trees and shrubs , sometimes spiny, belonging to the PITTOSPORACEAE family.
Some 150+ species occur in tropical and subtropical parts of Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
Pittosporum is derived from Greek words pitta pitch and spora seed, a reference to the sticky substance surrounding the seeds.

Characteristics of the genus
Leaves usually petiolate, simple, alternate or whorled, without stipules; margins entire or with small teeth.
Flowers small and bell-like, solitary or in various inflorescences, often perfumed; sepals 5; petals 5; stamens 5, alternating with petals.
Fruits dehiscent capsules; valves leathery or hard; seeds usually immersed in a sticky fluid.

Queensland Pittosporum species
P angustifolium (formerly P. phylliraeoides) #
P .ferrugineum ssp ferrugineum
P. ferrugineum ssp linifolium #
P .lancifolium (formerly Citriobatus lancifolius)
P. multiflorum (formerly Citriobatus pauciflorus)
P. oreillyanum
P. revolutum #
P. rubiginosum
P. spinescens (formerly Citriobatus spinescens) #
P. trilobum
P. undulatum
P. venulosum #
P. viscidum (formerly Citriobatus linearis)
P. wingii
# These species found in the Rockhampton/Capricorn Coast area.
N.B. Pittosporum rhombifolium is now Auranticarpa
Rhombifolia #

Pittosporum uses past and present

P. angustifolium Stock will browse on the foliage which has been used as a drought fodder. Some aboriginal tribes treated pains and cramping by drinking an infusion of the seeds, fruit pulp, leaves or wood. After boiling the fruit in water the liquid was drunk or applied to treat skin inflammations and itches. It was also used for colds and to promote the secretion of breast milk.
Some tribes pounded the bitter seed to make a flour.
The gum is reported to be edible.
P. revolutum The leaves contain saponin and may be used as a substitute for soap.
P. spinescens The fruit was eaten by some aboriginal tribes
P. venulosum Bruised roots placed near the shelters of aboriginal women gave off an aromatic odour which reportedly sexually excited the women.

Recorded Pittosporum wildlife connections

Leaf and/or foliage feeders The larvae of the bright copper
(P. multiflorum) and fiery copper (P. spinescens) butterflies and thrip species which cause leaf galls.
Flower and/or nectar and/or pollen feeders Grey-headed flying-foxes (P. undulatum), Australian ringneck parrots
(P. angustifolium) and Lewin's (P. undulatum) and yellow-plumed (P. angustifolium) honeyeaters.
Fruit and/or seed eaters Grey-headed flying-foxes (P. undulatum), southern cassowaries (P. rubiginosum), Lewin's
(P. multiflorum, P. undulatum), spiny-cheeked (P. angustifolium) and singing (P. angustifolium) honeyeaters, malleefowl (genus only), white-headed pigeons (P. undulatum), superb fruit-doves (P. undulatum), Major Mitchell's cockatoos (P. angustifolium), Australian ringneck parrots (P. angustifolium), red wattlebirds (P. angustifolium), pilotbirds (genus only),
silvereyes (P. undulatum, P. angustifolium), pied currawongs
(P. undulatum), satin bowerbirds (genus only), dusky woodswallows (genus only) and bright cornelian butterfly larvae
(P. undulatum).

Some hopefully helpful distinguishing features between P. Ferrugineum and P. Venulosum

Feature P. Ferrugineum P. Venulosum
Leaf apex bluntly pointed drawn out to a more acute point
Leaf base somewhat attenuate cuneate
Angle of lateral veins to midrib approximately 45 degrees approximately 60 degrees
No. of lateral veins usually less than 8 per side usually 8 or more per side
New growth pale fawn rusty brown
Seeds grouped into amalgamated up to 14 or so and separate

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