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Flora of Australia Online

Orites excelsa R.Br., (now excelsus ), Suppl. Prodr. Fl. Nov. Holl. 32 (1830)
Prickly Ash, Silky Oak, Mountain Silky Oak, White Beefwood

T: Hastings River, N.S.W., 1818, C.Fraser ; n.v.

Orites excelsa var. fissifolia F.Muell., Fragm. 5: 153 (1866). T: Hastings R., N.S.W., coll. unknown ; neo: MEL; isoneo: MEL, fide A.S.George, Fl. Australia 16: 496 (1995).

Orites fragrans F.M.Bailey, Rep. Meston's Exped. Bellenden-Ker 2 (1889). T: Mt Bellenden Ker, Qld, coll. unknown ; syn: n.v. ; Mt Bartle Frere, Qld, coll. not cited ; syn: n.v.

Illustrations: N.C.W.Beadle, Students Fl. NE New South Wales 2: 241, fig. 112 (1972); J.W.Wrigley & M.Fagg, Banksias, Waratahs & Grevilleas 481 (1989).

Tree to 30 m tall, sometimes a shrub. New shoots rusty-appressed-tomentose, glabrescent. Bark minutely scaly, later finely fissured, brown or grey; blaze pinkish brown turning dark brown. Leaves with petiole 1–2.5 cm long; lamina elliptic, lanceolate, ovate or oblong, 4–18.5 cm long, 1.5–4.5 cm wide, acute or obtuse or emarginate, entire or serrate or lobed, thin, shining above, pale beneath; juvenile leaves pinnatisect. Conflorescence axillary; rachis 5–11 cm long, puberulous; bracts ovate, obtuse to acute, 4.5–7 mm long, red, striate, glabrous except fimbriate margins; pedicels to 0.5 mm long. Perianth 4.5–5.5 mm long, creamy white, glabrous. Hypogynous glands triangular-oblong to ovate, thick, 0.3–0.6 mm long. Gynoecium 4–5.5 mm long; ovary pubescent. Follicle boat-shaped, acuminate, 20–30 mm long, 8–10 mm wide, appressed-puberulous. Seeds oblong to lanceolate, 23–24 mm long; wing terminal, truncate. Fig. 161G–J.

Common above 750 m from the Craven Plateau to the McPherson Range, N.S.W., and on several ranges in south-eastern Qld; also from 1000 to 1500 m on Mt Bellenden Ker, Thornton Peak, Mt Bartle Frere etc., in northern Qld. Grows in volcanic, granitic or sedimentary soil, in rainforest. Flowers May–Oct.; fruits Aug.–Dec. Map 397.

Qld: Mt Bartle Frere, M.Godwin C2869 (BRI, QRS); Springbrook, L.S.Smith 14077 (BRI); Mt Spurgeon, C.T.White 10627 (BRI). N.S.W.: 10.5 km SW of Stratford on Berrico trig. road, R.G.Coveny 8469 (NSW); Chaelundi Mtn, 37 km N of Ebor, H.Streimann 8153 (BRI, CBG, MEL, NSW).

Sometimes flowers among juvenile foliage which is simple or 2- or 3-lobed. Flowers fragrant. Cotyledons obovate-oblong, c. 15 mm long. Timber used for shingles, casks, furniture, cabinet work and internal joinery. Northern specimens (for many years known as O. fragrans ) tend to have slightly smaller flowers and seeds. No syntype of O. fragrans has been found at BRI or MEL. Carpenter (1994, p. 259) commented on the similarity of the cuticle in specimens referred to O. excelsa and O. fragrans and, in later discussion (pp 297, 298), grouped them as a nomenclatural unit.

Since publication of the Flora of Australia the Australian Plant Census treats the name as excelsus .

(A.S.George, B.P.M.Hyland)


Data derived from Flora of Australia Volumes 16 (1995), 17A (2000) and 17B (1999), products of ABRS, ©Commonwealth of Australia