Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hairy Boonaree

Alectryon pubescens
I was rather pleased with this hairy boonaree fruit which I found on a little tree in Franke Scrub, Cawdor, yesterday. They don’t fruit often, so it was good to be able to see its velvety capsule - the thing which distinguishes it from the very similar common scrub boonaree, A. diversifolius (see February 08)
The hairy boonaree is at the southernmost edge of its range, on the Darling Downs, and is not very common here.
Both these boonarees have very variable leaves, and similar showy “rooster’s eye” fruits. The leaves (and fruits) of A. pubescens are larger, but it can be difficult to be sure which of the two plants you’re looking at, as there’s considerable overlap.
Like all the Alectryons they have these bright red "cockscomb" arils, which swell when the fruit is ripe, bursting the seed capsules in half, and throwing off the little "cap". The beedy little rooster's eye seeds are almost completely surrounded by the aril, whose bright colour attracts the birds which eat the seeds and then "distribute" them to grow away from the parent tree.

This huge leaf was unusual even on the tree where I found it last year, on Mt Kynoch. I didn’t confirm the ID at the time, but it is probably another specimen of A. pubescens.

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