Interesting, endemic and threatened plants of the Daintree Lowland Rainforest

The flora of the Daintree contains an almost complete record of the evolution of plant life on Earth, including extremely ancient flowering plant families found nowhere else. We are passionate about the conservation of the plants found in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest. We hope you'll enjoy learning about these plants as much as we have and will want to see the Daintree Lowland Rainforest protected forever. 

The Daintree Lowland Rainforest is one of the oldest rainforests on Earth having survived undisturbed for over 120 million years. It holds exceptionally high biodiversity and conservation value and is the largest continuous area of tropical rainforest remaining in Australia.

Rainforests once covered much of eastern Australia, however, as conditions became drier the rainforest contracted and today the Daintree provides a refuge for many unique species. The Bennett’s Tree-kangaroo, Musky Rat-kangaroo, and the Southern Cassowary can be found here, as well a number of endemic plant species that have retained the same primitive characteristics of their ancestors. The flora of the Daintree contains an almost complete record of the evolution of plant life on Earth, including extremely ancient flowering plant families found nowhere else.

Before each purchase of a property in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest, we conduct a vegetation survey to confirm the conservation values. As we document the occurrence of interesting, endemic and threatened species we will share them on this page. 

Blush Walnut (Beilschmiedia obtusifolia). A seedling found during our survey of a freehold property in Cow Bay that will be purchased for conservation. This type of native Laurel grows to 30m tall in rainforest and adjacent wet sclerophyll forest north from Port Macquarie in NSW to Papua New Guinea. Its fruits are dispersed by pigeons which could help explain its broad distribution. Another name in the sawmill industry was Ivory Walnut, presumably because it was scarce to source quality timber of this species.

Blush Walnut (Beilschmiedia obtusifolia)

Cairns Pencil Cedar (Palaquium galactoxylon). A seedling found during a survey of a freehold property in Cow Bay threatened by development. There are only species in this genus (Palaquium) found in Australia. It occurs in lowland tropical rainforests north of about Tully with one record from Palm Island near Townsville. The species grows a tall straight trunk thus reflects the “Pencil Cedar” name. The species epithet galacto-xylon refers to the freshly cut timber that releases copious amounts of milky sap. In the forests, these trees are quite distinctive but the seedlings are even more unique in having this colouration unlike any other in the forest. On closer examination, the cut parts exude white latex, a common trait in Sapotaceae (remember “Sap”-otaceae). The old leaves turn an attractive orange colour being unusually deciduous.
Cairns Pencil Cedar (Palaquium galactoxylon)
Cairns Pencil Cedar (Palaquium galactoxylon)
Noah's Walnut (Endiandra microneura). It produces large yellow oblong-shaped fruits that are dispersed by the Southern Cassowary. This species is only found naturally within the Daintree rainforests predominately north of the Daintree River and south of Cape Tribulation. This tree is noticeable in the forest as it produces a vibrant display of limp red new leaves. It is listed as Near Threatened under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Noah's Walnut (Endiandra microneura)
Brown Pine (Podocarpus grayae) in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest. These trees can grow up to 30 metres tall and are found in well-developed rainforests from sea level to around 1,000 metres. Podocarpaceae is an ancient family of conifers that have their origins in the supercontinent of Gondwana.
Brown Pine (Podocarpus grayae)
Brown Pine (Podocarpus grayae)
Yarrabah Satinash (Syzygium angophoroides) grows in super saturated soils along with Red Beech, Paperbarks, Native Gardenia, Swamp Macaranga, Freshwater Mangrove and other trees which tolerate seasonal ponding. This young plant has stilt roots to help support it in the unstable mud and additionally the roots would allow for gaseous exchange, as roots within the soil would often be seasonally starved of air. Eventually this species can grow into gigantic dimensions. Another name used for this tree is “Swamp Satinash”.
Yarrabah Satinash (Syzygium angophoroides)
Yarrabah Satinash (Syzygium angophoroides)
Thornton Aspen (Acronychia acuminata).  This species is only found in rainforests surrounding Thornton Peak, the highest mountain in the Daintree. The fruits are attractive to birds including the Southern Cassowary and rainforest pigeons. The Thornton Aspen, a rare plant previously found at only six locations between the Daintree River and Bloomfield to the north. Listed as a Near Threatened species under the Queensland Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Thornton Aspen (Acronychia acuminata)
 
Thornton Aspen (Acronychia acuminata)

Isachne sharpii. The highly localised and Endangered grass was identified from open woodland paperbark habitat on Lot 110. This small grass grows to 15cm tall and was found growing in water in a ponded situation. This grass was first identified in 2001 from specimens found less than 1km from Lot 110. Originally named Isachne sp. Cape Tribulation (R.L.Jago 4560) and placed as a new species in 2010. Listed as an Endangered species under the Queensland Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Isachne sharpii

Isachne sharpii

Pothos brassii. This vine is endemic to the area between Cape Tribulation in the north and Bellenden Ker to the south. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 750 m. This slender vine has a stem not exceeding 2 cm in diameter and usually grows in well-developed lowland and upland rainforest. 
Pothos brassii.
Pothos brassii
Daintree Gardenia (Randia audasii). We found this Threatened species yesterday while surveying another property in Cow Bay for purchase and protection. This small tree is endemic to Far North Queensland and is restricted to the area between Cooktown, Cairns, and Atherton. The tree produces white perfumed flowers and fruit that are orange when ripe. It is listed as Near Threatened on the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992 (NCA).
Daintree Gardenia (Randia audasii)
Daintree Gardenia (Randia audasii)
In Australia, the vine, Hugonia jenkinsii has a distribution restricted to Cape York Peninsula and North East Queensland. 
Hugonia jenkinsii 
Hugonia jenkinsii 

Sarcopteryx reticulata (Sapindaceae). This plant is rather obscure in the forest however the botanical language describing the plant is very precise. The genus refers to a fleshy winged fruit (sarco-pteryx) and the species epithet refers to the leaf venation being reticulated, referring to a network of veins.
Sarcopteryx reticulata (Sapindaceae)
Sarcopteryx reticulata (Sapindaceae) 
Ant Plant (Myrmecodia beccarii). The Ant Plant epiphytic plant, it grows on another plant but is not parasitic. It lives harmlessly on Melaleuca trees and others with spongy bark in the wetlands and mangroves of tropical north Queensland. The Ant Plant has a special association with the Golden Ant (Iridomyrmex cordatus) which lives in the chambers of its tuber. What’s more, the Apollo Butterfly lays its eggs on this plant. The Golden Ants carry the butterfly eggs into the tuber chambers where they develop as butterflies.

The Ant Plant’s flowers are white and tubular, to 10mm, and the fruit is white/translucent containing a single seed. These single seeds are transported to other trees by the Mistletoe bird (dicaeum hirundinaceum).

It is listed as Vulnerable under the Queensland Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. It is threatened by habitat loss, invasion of weeds, and the illicit removal of the plants by plant and butterfly collectors.

Ant Plant (Myrmecodia beccarii)
Ant Plant (Myrmecodia beccarii)
Daintree Satinash (Syzygium monospermum). This species is only found in lowland rainforests between Cape Tribulation and Julatten. The tree provides food for the Endangered Southern Cassowary and owing to the size of its large white fruit that it produces straight from the trunk (an adaptation called cauliflory), few other animals other than possibly Fruit bats would disperse it. This tree was only botanically named in 2003. This unique tree species has a symbiotic relationship with Ants that inhabit the trunk of the tree. Little is known of the reason why Ants colonise the trunk of this tree however it is known that the internal structure of the tree is a purpose-built network of tunnels that allow Ants to undertake their entire life cycle, what the tree benefits from this is little known and currently remains unstudied.
Daintree Satinash (Syzygium monospermum)
Daintree Satinash (Syzygium monospermum)
Smilax kaniensis. A slender vine that does not exceed a stem diameter of 2 cm.
Smilax kaniensis
Smilax kaniensis
Hypsophila dielsiana (Celastraceae)
Hypsophila dielsiana (Celastraceae)
Hypsophila dielsiana (Celastraceae)
Sarcotoechia villosa. Endemic to Far North Queensland and restricted to the area between Mossman, Mt Molloy and Kuranda. Altitudinal range from 50-1000 m. Grows as an understory tree in well developed rainforest. 
Sarcotoechia villosa
Sarcotoechia villosa
Fishtail Silky Oak (Neorites kevedianus) is endemic to the wet tropics rainforests of north eastern Queensland. Neorites is a genus of plants with a sole described species, (Neorites kevedianus),of the plant family Proteaceae. 
Fishtail Silky Oak (Neorites kevedianus)
Fishtail Silky Oak (Neorites kevedianus)
Northern Coondoo (Pleioluma xerocarpa). Grows as an understory tree and is endemic to Far North Queensland.
Northern Coondoo (Pleioluma xerocarpa).
Kuranda Passionflower (Passiflora kuranda). This plant is related to edible passionfruit. They are endemic to Far North Queensland, from Cooktown to Cairns. It grows as a vine of up to 15 meters with a stem of a diameter of 8 cm and occurs from sea level to an altitude of 900 meters.
Kuranda Passionflower (Passiflora kuranda).
Kuranda Passionflower (Passiflora kuranda).

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  • Kelvin Davies
    published this page in Latest News 2021-07-01 10:42:51 +1000