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Red Kamala

(Mallotus philippensis, fam. Euphorbiaceae)

Mallotus philippensis Mallotus philippensis Mallotus philippensis Mallotus philippensis Mallotus philippensis
A bushy, shrub or small tree to approximately 20m, depending on growing conditions.
Form or habit: Shrub or small tree,Tree
Latex:Absent
Leaf:Simple Alternate

Ovate to lanceolate, 6-20 x 4-10cm. Apex long-tapered, base rounded, margins entire, upper surface green and hairless, lowers surface grey-green and hairy with numerous tiny red glands; often with two raised glands at the base on the upper surface; 3 prominent veins. Petiole 2-5cm long, slender with minute hairs.

Flower conspicuous: Inconspicuous
Flower colour: Yellowish-brown
Flower description:3-4 green-white-yellow sepals 1-3mm long, dioecious (separate male and female plants).
Fruit conspicuous: Conspicuous
Fruit colour: Red
Fruit: Dry
Fruit description: A capsule, globular with 3 lobes, 6-9mm diameter. Powdery red glands cover capsule. 2-4 black brown seeds 3-5mm long.
Habitat:Gallery (Riverine or riparian) forest,Vine thicket,Woodland/ open forest,Beach Scrub/Littoral Rainforest
Distribution:Cape York to Hunter region of NSW.
Food source for:Fruit are eaten by Lewin’s honeyeater and figbirds.
Toxicity:Potential allergen
Origin:Australia; South East Asia extending to Asia.
Weed:No
Weed status:
Notes:The fruit produces the golden red dye “kamala” which is used for dying silk. This powder is also used in India to treat skin conditions. The seeds produce a thick, yellowish brown oil or semi-solid fat which in India is used as a substitute for tung oil in fast drying paints and varnishes.
Information sources:
Beasley J. (2009) Plants of Cape York

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