Polyscias elegans

Posted on Updated on

Polyscias elegansFamily: Araliaceae
Genus: Polyscias
Common names: Celerywood, Silver basswood
ALA reference

Trees of this species are scattered through the reserve. The recent storms have blown several of them over, and they are now lying flat on the ground, although most still have some roots in the soil. It will be interesting to see if they survive and if so, what their future growth will be like. When unaffected by storms they grow into tall thin trees with bare trunks and a bunch of leaves at the top. The flowers and fruit are on the tops of the trees and so are normally difficult to see. The flowers that I’ve photographed here are on one of the trees that had blown over. Note the very large bunches of flowers. The photo of the flowers shows some open flowers as well as a number of unopened buds. Unlike many of the dry rainforest trees this species flowers reliably every year and produces an abundance of fruit that is much loved by our many frugivorous birds. It is also a great regenerator. It is germinating well in areas that we have cleared of cat’s claw and ochna. In the NE corner a seedling that appeared in 2007 is now about 4 metres high and already bearing flowers despite having had the top eaten off by wallabies several times in its early years. (March 2013)

This is another pioneer species that grows quickly with a tall thin trunk and crown of very large bipinnate leaves. The tree can eventually attain a height of about 30 metres with a stem diameter of about 75cm. It is not particularly common in the reserve and I haven’t seen any large trees. The purple flowers are carried on large much branched panicles at the ends of the branches. The small fruit, which contain two seeds, are flattened and carry two persistent styles. They are attractive to birds which assist in their dispersal. The common name Celery Wood is derived from the bark that is said to taste and smell like celery. (April 2008)