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Tropical North Queensland, Australia.
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Sarsaparilla Tree

Photo: Courtesy of Damon Ramsey
BSc.(Zool) Biologist Guide

Sarsaparilla Tree: Alphitonia spp.

  • Produces a hard, round, dark 'capped’ fruit.

  • Leaves contain methyl salicylate and smells like liniment when crushed.

  • Leaves are often attacked/eaten by caterpillars.

  • The birds love the boring looking fruit.

Script: Courtesy of  Damon Ramsey BSc.(Zool) Biologist Guide

Sarsaparilla Tree: Alphitonia petriei

  • Also known as pink and white ash, these trees cover themselves with blossom in springtime, the nectar and pollen attracting many birds and insects.

  • This pioneer species is extremely fast growing, but relatively short-lived.

  • It is one of the first species to establish itself in disturbed areas and is common along roadsides and other forest edges.

  • The leaves of this tree are silvery white on the underside, the tree glowing distinctively when lit from underneath by a spotlight at night.

  • These leaves are often chosen by tooth-billed bowerbirds to decorate their performing spaces and they are an important food source for Herbert river ringtail possums and Lumholtz tree-kangaroos.

  • They are also a food source for the caterpillars of the small green-banded blue butterfly and eight species of moths.

  • When crushed, the leaves, as well as the bark, smell like sarsaparilla.

  • About six months after flowering, dull black globular fruits, each about 1.5cm across, appear.

  • These attract numerous birds including superb fruit doves, Victoria's riflebirds, king parrots and crimson rosellas.

Script: Courtesy of Environmental Protection Agency

Chambers Wildlife Rainforest Lodges
Lake Eacham, Atherton Tablelands
Tropical North Queensland, Australia.
PH & Fax: 07 4095 3754 International: 61 7 4095 3754

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