Parsonsia straminea is a climber (vine) with opposite leaves, watery-milky sap. Climbs by means of roots which form sporadically along the stem of the plant which grip the trunk. Widespread and common in most types of rainforest and sclerophyll forest north from Mt Dromedary, NSW. The stems grow to considerable diameter (over 10 cm) and the vine can climb up to 40 m into the canopy. The vines live to great age and are capable of pulling down trees. Possums nest in older vines. The seed capsule is a linear pod, to 20 cm long by 10 mm wide. Seeds have a plume of several long silky hairs to help their dispersal. Common in rainforest and wet sclerophyll forest in eastern New South Wales and Queensland. The family name is Apocynaceae for the dogbane family; from the Greek apo meaning away from or away with and kuon meaning dog. Pronunciation is a-pos-ih-NAY-see-ay.
Photo: Robert Whyte
The small pale yellow, fragrant flowers are borne in panicles at the ends of the stems or in the leaf axils. Individual flowers are pubescent, with a tube 3 mm long and 5 spreading or recurved lobes 4 mm long. Flowers provide nectar for a variety of insects including, bees, wasps, butterflies and beetles.
Photo: John Abbott
Host plant for the caterpillar of the Common Crow butterfly Euploea core. Soapberry Bugs Lepticoris spp. opportunistically feed on the nectar.
Common Crow butterfly. Photo: Mark Crocker
Juvenile leaves are much smaller than the adult leaves and are purplish underneath. Adult foliage can be dark green, light green, or variegated by means of blotches. Lower surface paler, veins finely reticulate and raised on both surfaces, especially in dried leaves.
Photo: Matt Tomkins
This photo shows the large trunk of Parsonsia straminea climbing an ancient Waterhousea floribunda at Walton Bridge Reserve.
Photo: Anne Jones