Caesalpinia scortechinii (CAESALPINIACEAE) Large Prickle-vine

Plants to Plant

Vigorous woody climber or scrambler with stems to 12 metres, found on the margins of rainforest and along the banks of streams, especially in rocky areas, from north-east NSW to north-east Queensland; endemic to Australia. There are some weedy exotics also from the Caesalpinia genus, the one that most looks like this has reddish-brown hairy stems.

Form. Photo: Robert Whyte

Prickles

Stems bear sharp, curved, reflexed (backward-pointing) prickles, the bark becoming somewhat corky with age. Leaves compound (bipinnate, or twice-divided), opposite, to 40 cm in length, having 4-7 pairs of secondary pinnae, each pinna bearing 14-16 dark green obovate leaflets to 3 cm by 2 cm. Flowers dull yellow, to about 2 cm across, the stamens barely protruding; borne in terminal panicles to about 30 cm in length, appear August to November. Fruit a flattened, winged pod to 5 cm by 1.5 cm, containing a single, patterned seed about 2 cm long, ripe December to March. Flowers attractive to butterflies. Propagation by scarified seed. Requires good drainage. Moderately frost tolerant. Useful for preventing pedestrian access. Seeds very decorative.

Thorns. Photo: Robert Whyte