The large seeds are carried varying distances by birds, but mostly propagate in the vicinity of a large specimen. The adult trees do not supress germination – young trees can be quite thick around the adults.
A very hardy plant, able to survive in hard conditions, poor soils and drought.
Other common names Woolly rambutan, Hairy bird’s eye.
Painting by Janet Hauser for Scott Carroll of Carrol-Loye Biological Research.
Leaflets 4-8, margins usually regularly toothed, upper surface smooth or finely hairy, lower surface usually more hairy, petiole 10-30 mm, petiolules 1-2 mm.
New growth pinky brown-green. Photo: Robert Whyte
Fruit is a brown hairy capsule, 1-3 lobed, opens to reveal edible red aril and shiny black seed(s). Ripe June – Nov. Fruiting was erratic in 2006.
The fleshy aril is quite pleasant tasting, though there is not much of it. The seeds are cyanide collectors, so will be toxic. They are unlikely to be toxic if swallowed whole, but could be if chewed (crushed).
Flowers closeup. Photo: Robert Whyte
Tomentosus from Latin tomentosus thickly and evenly covered with short, more or less, curled or curved matted hair, in reference to the hairy leaves and young shoots.
Photo: Robert Whyte
Seed (fresh fruit, very ripe) ready to pick in the early spring. Propagation is quite easy but not reliable (about 25%).
The tree is host to the Leptocoris tagalicus bug. Carroll-Loye Biological Research shows that with only slight changes the bug could shift its focus to the introduced environmental weed, Cardiospermum grandiflorum (Balloon Vine).
Leaflets increasing in size outwards from the petiole. Photo: Robert Whyte
Along with other Alectryon sp. host to larvae of Large Purple Line-blue (Nacaduba berenice), Small-tailed Line-blue (Prosotas felderi), Glistening Blue (Sahulana scintillata) and Pencilled-blues (Candalides spp.). These all feed on juvenile foliage and flower buds.
Tubestock. Photo: Robert Whyte