Polyscias elegans (ARALIACEAE) Celery Wood, Silver Basswood, Black Pencil Cedar

Sparingly branched tree to 30 m high, glabrescent (smooth, shiny).

Leaves usually bipinnate (except for some on flowering shoots only pinnate and with 5-9 leaflets), up to 100 cm long, secondary rachises to 12 cm long; petiole circular in cross section; leaflets with branched hairs when young, ovate to elliptic, mostly 5-12 cm long, mostly 3-6.5 cm wide, apex acuminate, base more or less rounded, margins entire; aromatic (smells a bit like celery) when crushed.

Flowering parts a terminal panicle, branching 1-3 times, flowers solitary arranged along inflorescence branches. Calyx an undulate rim. Petals purple-black.

Fruit globose, 5-6 mm long, purple-black when ripe.

Host plant for larvae of Dark Pencilled-blue (Candalides consimilis).

Photo: Robert Whyte