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Muttonwood

(Myrsine variabilis, fam. Myrsinaceae)

Myrsine variabilis Myrsine variabilis Myrsine variabilis Myrsine variabilis Myrsine variabilis

Formerly known as Rapanea variabilis, Muttonwood is a bushy shrub to small tree with a dense canopy and straight grey-barked trunk. Plants may sucker from the roots if damaged.

Form or habit: Shrub or small tree
Latex:Absent
Leaf:Simple Alternate

Alternate, leathery textured, variable in shape (variabilis); mostly obovate, 3-12 x 1-4cm, rounded or bluntly pointed at the apex and tapering into a short, sometimes purplish, stalk; strongly veined; margins wavy and generally coarsely toothed on young plants. Some teeth may be present on older plants though this is seldom evident in the central coast areas. All members of the Myrsinaceae family have oil dots and the distinctive reddish dots of this species can be seen with a x10 hand lens, especially in dried brown leaves.

Flower conspicuous: Conspicuous
Flower colour: White
Flower description:Tiny greenish-cream bell shaped flowers clustered along the branches usually with functional male and female flowers on separate plants. Flowering occurs from June to September.
Fruit conspicuous: Conspicuous
Fruit colour: Purple
Fruit: Fleshy
Fruit description: Fruits are small globular drupes, 4-5mm in diameter, purplish when mature (November to March), and contain one round ‘seed’.
Habitat:Beach Scrub/Littoral Rainforest
Distribution:Eastern Australia from McIlwraith Range in North Queensland to south coast of NSW. Common in beach scrubs throughout this region and occurs well beyond coastal habitats as it is the most widespread Australian species.
Food source for:It is the larval food plant of the White-banded Line-blue butterfly and its fruits are commonly eaten by fruit doves, lorikeets and fig birds.
Toxicity:No toxicity known
Origin:Australia
Weed:No
Weed status:
Notes:
Information sources: The Mackay Branch Socieity for Growing Australian Plants. (1989) One Hundred and One Trees of Mackay.
Champion, I. and Alcock, H. (1989) One Hundred and One Trees of Mackay, The Mackay Branch of Society for Growing Australian Plants. Jackes, Betsy R. Revision of Myrsine (Myrsinaceae) in Australia. Australian Systematic Botany 18, 399-438 (2005).

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