Codonocarpus attenuatus

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Codonocarpus attenuatusFamily: Gyrostemonaceae
Genus: Codonocarpus
Common name: Bell-fruit Tree
ALA reference

I showed a specimen of the plant to Sandy Pollock, a botanist from
the Queensland Herbarium, who was a guest speaker at the June 
Habitat Brisbane meeting. He suggested that it might be
 Codonocarpus attenuatus. What makes identification of a seedling 
like this one very difficult is the fact that I suspect the juvenile 
leaves are rather different from the adult leaves. Plant
 descriptions usually describe only the adult plants and give no 
indication of what juvenile plants look like. In an effort to find an 
adult plant (possibly surrounded by seedlings) to compare it with, I 
consulted Australia’s Virtual Herbarium. This internet site 
contains the amalgamated records of plant collections from the 
States’ Herbaria. I found that Paul Grimshaw had collected a 
specimen in 1996 from a tree growing just off Monier Road 
opposite Gardenway Nursery.

Unfortunately when I checked the site I discovered that the tree must
 have been destroyed when a pipe or cable was laid parallel with Monier Road. This site is only about 2.6 km from where the seedlings are growing in the Fort Bushland. The only other specimens collected from the Brisbane area are by C.T. White from Mt. Gravatt in 1917 and by I.R. Telford from Brookfield in 1970. I would love to hear from any reader who knows where there is a plant in the Brisbane area. My sister recently spotted a tree near the Splityard Creek Dam and was able to supply the photos on the next page. Unfortunately the tree is surrounded by weeds and she was unable to find any seedlings. On searching the internet I discovered that Riverdene Nurseries in NSW has Codonocarpus attenuatus seedlings for sale. The proprietors of the nursery kindly agreed to look at the above photo and they are almost certain it is Codonocarpus attenuatus. I think we can only be certain of its true identification when it has matured and flowered.

Codonocarpus attenuatus belongs in the plant family Gyrostemonaceae. What is particularly interesting about this family is that it contains only 4 genera with a total of just 17 species worldwide. The Queensland Herbarium census contains just two species of Codonocarpus and three species of Gyrostemon in this plant family. In addition this plant family does not seem to be closely related to any other plant family with species that are familiar to us. This possibly explains why when I saw the plant I could not relate it to any other plant. It is really quite exciting to realise that these seeds must have fallen from a tree killed by the cat’s claw and then lain dormant in the soil for at least five years before germination was triggered by the fierce January storms. (June 2013)

Codonocarpus attenuatusThis is far and away the fastest growing native species that we have had in the Reserve. This young tree is only just over 1 year old but is already about 4 metres tall. As the tree has grown the leaves have gradually become longer and narrower and more like the long narrow leaves of a mature tree. I think that one of the seedlings that appeared last year has died but we still have seven plants although one was badly damaged by the feral deer. (May 2014)

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