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Flora of Australia Online

Melastoma affine D.Don, Mem. Wern. Soc. 4: 288 (1822)

T: not designated.

Melastoma polyanthum Blume, Flora 14: 481 (1831); Melastoma malabathricum var. polyanthum (Blume) Benth., Fl. Austral. 3: 292 (1867). T: Java, Blume s.n. ; holo: L n.v., fide R.C.Bakhuizen van den Brink, Jr., Meded. Bot. Mus. Herb. Rijks Univ. Ütrecht 91: 68 (1943).

Melastoma novaehollandiae Naudin, Ann. Sci. Nat. Bot. ser. 3, 13: 290 (1850). T: Moreton Bay, Verreaux, Catal. 571 ; holo: P n.v., fide Naudin, Ann. Sci. Nat. Bot. ser. 3, 13: 290 (1850).

Melastoma malabathricum var. nanum F.M.Bailey, Queensland Agric. J. 28: 275 (1912). T: Kuranda, Qld, Jan. 1912, F.H.Kenny s.n. ; syn: BRI; Kuranda, Qld, Feb. 1912, F.H.Kenny s.n. ; syn: BRI.

[Melastoma denticulatum auct. non Labill.; N.C.W.Beadle, Stud. Fl. N.E. New South Wales 3: 487 (1976)] 

[Melastoma malabathricum auct. non L.; J.W.Green, Census Vasc. Pl. W. Australia 2nd edn, 133, 258 (1985)] 

Illustrations: K.A.W.Williams, Native Pl. Queensland 1: 193 (1979) as Melastoma polyanthum ; T.D.Stanley and E.M.Ross, Fl. S.E. Queensland 2: fig. 34D (1986); J.Harmer, N. Australian Pl. 1: 71 (n.d.).

Bushy shrub to 3 m. Leaves elliptic to ovate, 3–5-nerved; lamina c. 4–12 cm long and 1–6 cm wide. Inflorescence terminal or subterminal, cymose, fairly crowded, to 7-flowered, sometimes more. Hypanthium c. 5–7 mm long and 4–5 mm diam., densely covered with flattened often fimbriate scales 0.5–2.5 mm long. Calyx lobes triangular to lanceolate or oblanceolate, moderately to densely covered with scales and a few hairs, alternating with denticles. Petals purple to mauve. Stamens: larger stamens with anthers 5–6 mm long, connective prolongation 6–7 mm long, and bilobed appendage 1–2 mm long; smaller stamens with anthers 5–6 mm long, connective prolongation less than 0.5 mm long, and bilobed appendage 0.5 mm long. Ovary summit densely pubescent. Fruit campanulate to urceolate, to 10 mm long and 10 mm diam. Fig. 86F–I.

Extends from the Kimberley, W.A., around the N and E coasts to near Kempsey, northern N.S.W. Also from India and SE Asia through Malesia to New Guinea. Grows in a wide range of habitats, but generally in wet areas; found in disturbed areas in rainforest, and swampy or wet areas in open forest, woodland or heath. Map 346.

W.A.: Forest Ck, Drysdale River Natl Park, N Kimberley, K.F.Kenneally 4535 (CANB). N.T.: Bessie Spring, Macarthur River Stn, G.Wightman 1634 (CANB, DNA); Darwin R. dam area, M.O.Rankin 1426 (BRI, CANB, DNA). Qld: Timber Reserve 14 (McIlwraith Ra., Leo Creek Rd), B.Hyland 8394 (BRI, CANB, QRS). N.S.W.: 11.3 km NW of Iluka, 17.7 km NE of Maclean, J.O'Hara & R.Coveny 3512 (BRI, NSW).

A very variable species, even within Australia. Variation can be seen in the size, shape and density of the scales on the hypanthium, the size and shape of the calyx lobes and of the floral bracts, and the size and general pubescence of the leaves. Some of these characters are used to distinguish species within the genus. Melastoma malabathricum is generally distinguished by the large floral bracts. Despite the variation within M. affine , it does remain distinct from M. malabathricum . Some plants within Australia, which have their hypanthium densely covered with slightly longer scales, approach M. lanuginosum Blume, but appear to remain distinct. A thorough revision of these and other related species throughout their range is needed to fully settle the species limits.

(Trevor Whiffin)


Data derived from Flora of Australia Volume 18 (1990), a product of ABRS, ©Commonwealth of Australia