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Helicia Lour., Fl. Cochinch. 1: 83 (1790); from the Greek helix (a spiral), referring to the tepals which are spirally coiled at anthesis

Type: Hollandaea cochinchinensis Lour.

Helittophyllum Blume, Bijdr. Fl. Ned. Ind. 652 (1825). T: Helittophyllum javanicum Blume

Cyanocarpus F.M.Bailey, Rep. Govt Sci. Exped. Bellenden-Ker Ra. 55 (1889). T: Cyanocarpus nortoniana F.M.Bailey

Trees or shrubs. Branchlets terete. Leaves simple, spiral (rarely opposite); margin entire or variously toothed. Conflorescence raceme-like, terminal or subterminal, axillary, ramiflorous or rarely cauliflorous. Involucral and floral bracts small to minute, rarely persisting. Flowers actinomorphic, bisexual or andromonoecious. Receptacle straight. Perianth straight; tube slender; limb slightly expanded; tepals separate and revolute at anthesis. Hypogynous glands 4, free or fused into a cup. Stamens 4, adnate at limb base; filaments short. Ovary sessile, glabrous or tomentose; style straight; pollen presenter fusiform. Fruit drupe-like, indehiscent or splitting irregularly. Seed 1, rarely 2, globose or ovoid. n = 14, L.A.S.Johnson & B.G.Briggs, Austral. J. Bot. 11: 24 (1963). 

A widespread genus of c. 90 species, extending from the south coast of N.S.W. to north-eastern Qld and northern Australia, throughout Malesia and SE Asia, southern India and Sri Lanka, and southern Japan. Nine species occur in Australia; 8 are endemic, with 1 northern Australian species extending to southern New Guinea. 

The often brightly coloured, regular flowers borne in raceme-like conflorescences and the drupe-like fruits are among the more conspicuous features of the genus.

H.Sleumer, Studies on Old World Proteaceae, Blumea 8: 2–95 (1955); W.D.Francis, Austral. Rain-forest Trees 4th edn, 87, 91, 390 (1982); D.B.Foreman, A review of the genus Helicia Lour. (Proteaceae) in Australia, Brunonia 6: 59–72 (1983); J.W.Wrigley & M.Fagg, Banksias, Waratahs & Grevilleas 414–419 (1989); P.G.Ladd & S.W.Connell, Andromonoecy and fruit set in three genera of the Proteaceae, Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 116: 77–88 (1994).

1 Leaf lamina glabrous beneath or very nearly so, a few sparse hairs may persist along the midrib and main lateral veins


1: Leaf lamina persistently hairy beneath, particularly along midrib and lateral veins


2 Petiole often reduced, usually less than 3 mm long; venation dense


2: Petiole distinct, usually more than 3 mm long; venation dense or lax


3 Ovary hairy


3: Ovary glabrous


4 Tepals glabrous, to 18 mm long; pedicels c. 5 mm long


4: Tepals ferruginous-pilose, sometimes sparsely so, to 15 mm long; pedicels to 3 mm long


5 Leaf margin recurved; lamina coriaceous


5: Leaf margin not recurved; lamina chartaceous


6 Twigs glabrous; leaf lamina lanceolate to narrowly elliptic; petiole 10–20 mm long


6: Twigs with appressed reddish brown hairs; leaf lamina elliptic; petiole 8–12 mm long


7 Tepals 12–18 mm long; leaf lamina orbicular, with irregularly toothed margins


7: Tepals 6–8.5 mm long; leaf lamina variously shaped, with regularly toothed margins


8 Leaf lamina ±elliptic; indumentum not persistent, often sparse; lateral veins 6–10 pairs; tepals c. 8.5 mm long


8: Leaf lamina oblong or oblong-lanceolate; indumentum persistent and dense; lateral veins 10–20 pairs; tepals c. 6 mm long



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