Callicarpa pedunculata (VERBENACEAE) Velvet Leaf

Plants to Plant

A tall open shrub with tiny pink flower clusters along the stems, mostly 3-4 m high, sparsely to densely hairy, in and near subtropical rainforest; north from Port Macquarie. Joseph Banks and his party saw this species at the Endeavour River in Far North Queensland between 17 June and 4 August 1770. Leaves narrow-ovate to oblong-ovate, to 15 cm long, apex pointed, base rounded or more or less hearshaped, margins toothed, upper surface sparsely hairy, lower surface with brownish hairs; petiole mostly 5-10 mm long.

Photo: Robert Whyte, inset by Mark Crocker shows whiteish, greenish and purple fruit.

Lantana Replacement

Inflorescences (flowering parts) 2-3 cm long, rather lax, sometimes inserted a little above leaf axil. Attractive flowers, if small. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by insects. Because this plant is in the same family as Lantana, it is sometimes cited as a Lantana replacement. It is not as vigorous or drought-tolerant, nor is it as spiky, so it may not be a good replacement on its own, but deserves to be in the mix with other plants replacement species like Bursaria, Alyxia, Carissa, Maclura, Orange Thorn and other hardy, prickly plants.

Flower buds. Photo: Robert Whyte

Flower Close-up

The flowers are quite beautiful miniatures, revealing their full beauty only with the help of macrophotography. This plant was photographed at Walton Bridge Reserve, The Gap.

Flower close-up. Photo: Robert Whyte

Medicinal Properties

The fruit is a feature, leading to the common name of the genus Beautyberry. It is a globose drupe to 4 mm in diameter, whitish to purple when ripe. Also placed in the Lamiaceae. The whole plant is analgesic, antiphlogistic (reduces fever by lowering the body temperature from a raised state) and haemostatic (acting to arrest bleeding or hemorrhage). A decoction has been used in the treatment of haemoptysis (coughing up blood from the respiratory tract), haematemesis (vomiting blood), nose bleed, haematuria (the presence of blood in the urine), traumatic bleeding, traumatic injuries and rheumatoid arthritis. The whole plant can be crushed for external applications to wounds (A Barefoot Doctor’s Manual. Running Press ISBN 0-914294-92-X, Herbal from China).

Fruit. Photo: Robert Whyte