Parsonsia straminea

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Parsonsia stramineaFamily: Apocynaceae
Genus: Parsonsia
Common names: Common silkpod, Monkey rope vine
ALA reference

Parsonsia straminea is a very common vine in the Reserve and most of the mature plants are now covered in flowers. The small cream-yellow flowers are only about 5mm across. The old vines develop thick ropey and often twisted stems that climb to the top of quite large trees. The mature leaves are large and leathery and may be up to 24 cm in length. The flowers are followed by clusters of long thin seedpods that may grow to about 20 cm in length. When ripe the pods split open to release the wind-dispersed seeds with their parasol of silken threads.

The leaves of this species are dimorphic with the juvenile leaves having a quite different appearance to the adult leaves. The juvenile leaves are narrow and somewhat fleshy with a purple underside. This species of Parsonsia is the only local species of the genus with adventitious roots that are used by the developing vine to cling to the tree trunk as the vine climbs upward into the tree canopy. Parsonsia leichhardtii (Black Silkpod) is another species of the genus growing in the Reserve. (January 2010)

This is a tall woody vine which climbs using adventitious roots and twining stems. The leaves are dimorphic. The adult leaves are yellowish green up to 24 cm long and 8 cm wide. The juvenile leaves are only 1 to 5 cm long and purple on the lower surface. The vines can form a thick cover in the lower storey but also extend to the tree tops where the stems can grow to 10 cm in diameter. The pale yellow flowers are followed by long seed pods up to 20 cm in length which split to release the their silk covered seeds.

The thick stems of Trophis scandens and Parsonsia straminea are quite similar in appearance and difficult to separately identify unless their leaves are visible. From what I have seen I think the stems of the Parsonsia are smoother in appearance between the fairly prominent lenticels than the Trophis and also tend to snake around the trees much more. (January 2007)