1. Family: Stemonuraceae Kårehed
    1. Genus: Medusanthera Seem.
      1. Medusanthera laxiflora (Miers) R.A.Howard

        This species is accepted, and its native range is Central Malesia to Santa Cruz Islands.

    [KBu]

    Utteridge, T.M.A. Kew Bull (2011) 66: 49. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12225-011-9266-z

    Type
    Type: The Philippines, Luzon, Albay Province, Cuming 891 (holotype BM: Herb. Miers fragm. ex Herb. Hook. & Lindley; isotypes C n.v., K-2 sheets, P-2 sheets).
    Habit
    Tree 9 – 16 m, d.b.h 8 – 10 cm
    Indumentum
    Indumentum of simple appressed hairs, translucent, tinged ginger-brown (on the branches and leaves) or colourless (on the inflorescence and floral parts), 0.125 – 0.25 mm long (see description of specific structures for distribution)
    Branches
    Branches ± flexuous, 4 – 8 mm in diameter, densely hairy soon glabrous, drying yellow-brown
    Leaves
    Leaves chartaceous, elliptic to oblong, (5.7 –) 13 – 17 (– 23) × (1.8 –) 4.5 – 7 (– 8.8) cm, apex acute to shortly acuminate, acumen (3.5 –) 8 – 12 mm long, base cuneate, ad- and abaxial lamina glabrous, lamina drying pale dull olive-green on both sides; midrib adaxially ± sulcate and glabrous, abaxially prominent and sparsely glabrous; secondary veins brochidodromus or weakly brochidodromus (sometimes appearing eucamptodromus), loop-forming branches joining the superadjacent secondary vein at an acute or right angle, enclosed by secondary arches, straight or curved, (7 –) 9 – 12 (– 16) pairs, tertiary veins percurrent; petioles 7 – 13 (– 25) mm long, sparsely hairy
    Inflorescences
    Staminate inflorescences axillary either in foliose axils or along the branches in leafless axils, 1 (– 2) per axil, umbellate or rarely compound racemose with ultimate branches terminating in a cyme or irregular cyme, primary axis 9 – 18 mm long, with (2 –) 3 first order branches at the apex of the primary axis, branched to 3 orders, sparsely hairy; pedicels 1.2 – 1.9 mm long, sparsely hairy Pistillate inflorescences as staminate inflorescences, axillary, primary axis 1.6 – 2.9 cm long
    Flowers
    Staminate flowers pentamerous, calyx cup-like, 0.6 – 0.9 mm long, shallowly 5-lobed or not lobed, glabrous, petals oblong to narrowly oblong, white, 3 – 3.5 × 0.6 – 1.3 mm, glabrous, stamens with anthers 0.5 – 1 mm long, filaments narrowly obovate, 1.5 – 2 mm long, sparsely or densely hairy with linear, membranous hairs 1.25 – 2.5 mm long on the adaxial surface of the filaments below the anthers; pistillode spherical to obovoid, 0.8 – 1.7 × 0.8 – 1.1 mm Pistillate flowers as staminate except with staminodes with vestigial anthers, glabrous, ovary cylindrical, 1.6 – 2.4 × 0.8 – 1 mm
    Fruits
    Fruits ovate to oblong, truncate at both ends, glabrous; when dry putamen curved, 11 – 18.5 (– 20.5) × 6 – 8.5 mm, apex of drupe beaked and recurving, putamen with 4 – 5 longitudinal ridges on the convex side, pulviniform appendage shrunken on the concave surface, 4 – 6 (– 11) × 3 – 6 mm; when fresh drupe 13 – 16.6 × 7.7 – 9 mm, appendage 18.5 – 22.8 × 14.7 – 17.3 mm, drupe and appendage 11.3 – 13.6 mm thick, sarcocarp shiny black to black-purple, pulviniform appendage oblong, fleshy, initially white then orange when immature, maturing to translucent pink, covering the drupe (collecting notes e.g., Takeuchi et al-4222, van Royen NGF 20065 etc.)
    Distribution
    Medusanthera laxiflora is the most widely distributed species in the genus and is found in the Philippines, Sulawesi, and throughout New Guinea down through the Solomon Islands.
    Ecology
    Recorded from a variety of habitats, usually primary rain forest, but also from secondary rain forest, logged forest, beach forest, and swamp forest; (5 –) 30 – 600 (− 1000 m).
    Conservation
    Medusanthera laxiflora is widespread with a very large EOO and has been recorded from a wide range of habitats, and is given a conservation rating of Least Concern (LC).
    Vernacular
    Sleumer (1971: 47) gives a full list of vernacular names, and those most often encountered are listed here. Indonesia: kene (Biak). Papua New Guinea: diroma, dirokah, guam, kiaua, yemollew (Bougainville); midyagia, mitikia (East Sepik Province, Waskuk language), gapi (ibid., Wagu language); iledudu (Milne Bay Province, Daga language), turin (ibid., Onjob language), wagewageia (ibid., Minufia language); la moro (New Britain); siganapa (Northern Province, Orokaiva language), surupa (ibid., Baruba language), turin (ibid., Wanigela language); guarom, sukumisib (Sepik Province). Solomon Islands: ahukihuki (Arohane language), ai-alo (Kwaia'ae language); ae'yalo, mae-mae, mai-mai (Kwara'ae language).
    Note

    There are two other species of Medusanthera in New Guinea — M. inaequalis and M. megistocarpa. M. laxiflora differs from both of these species in the elliptic to oblong leaves (M. inaequalis and M. megistocarpa: leaves obovate), and especially the narrowly oblong to oblong drupe less than 10 mm wide when dry (M. inaequalis and M. megistocarpa: broadly oblong greater than 11 mm when dry) with the appendage covering only the central part of the drupe's concave surface when dry (M. inaequalis and M. megistocarpa: appendage large and covering the whole of the drupe's concave surface when dry).

    In addition the fresh fruits, with a pink pulviniform appendage in combination with the purple-black drupe remaining on the plant, contrast with the much larger fruits of M. inaequalis and M. megistocarpa, which have a pink appendage and a white or green drupe and fall to the ground for ground-dwelling dispersers, including cassowaries. (Sleumer's note in Flora Malesiana that the fruits of M. laxiflora are reported to be favoured by cassowary is from the collection label of Gray NGF 8146 — a specimen now assigned to M. megistocarpa.) The mature fruit colour of Medusanthera laxiflora is described in the notes of several collections as bicoloured with a usually black or purplish-black drupe contrasting with the succulent pink appendage (see for example White 9545, NGF 1571, NGF 4642, NGF 20065), and can be seen in the recent guide to the plants of Gunung Meja (Lekitoo et al. 2008).

    The fruits have been observed being eaten by Goldie's Bird of Paradise (Paradisea decora) on Normanby and Fergusson Islands of Papua New Guinea, and were photographed with mature fruits on the tree (LeCroy et al. 1980, Fig. 1). Trees of M. laxiflora were found to be distributed below the Goldie's Bird of Paradise display areas and LeCroy et al. (1980: 291) noted that the fruits are perhaps disseminated by the birds themselves. A greater range of birds than just Paradisea spp. probably distribute the fruits of M. laxiflora, but additional reports have not been found. The relatively small pink and black fruits, which remain on the tree when mature, are presumably adapted for dispersal by arboreal birds.

    This is the most widespread species of Medusanthera; several ‘local’ species had been described, such as M. carolinensis (Kaneh.) R. A. Howard, but the species is relatively uniform in its variation throughout and Sleumer (1969) synonymised these names into a single broadly circumscribed species. There have been no additions to the synonymy of M. laxiflora since Sleumer's comprehensive work for Flora Malesiana (Sleumer 1969, 1971), but the circumscription of this species has been narrowed with the description of M. inaequalis (Utteridge 2001), and M. malayana and M. megistocarpa in this paper. It has not been possible to delimit infraspecific taxa, e.g., geographical races, but material from the ‘fringes’ of the species distribution, specifically collections from the Solomon Islands, a set of collections from New Georgia, and those from the Palau Republic (western end of the Caroline Islands), have been seen with different fruit coloration. The fruits of all material collected from the Solomon Islands — except for a single collection — are described as being green on one side (the drupe) and ivory white on the other. It is possible that these M. laxiflora collections from the Solomons are mature and have a different colour from those on mainland New Guinea and could be recognised with a varietal rank (all other morphological features being the same). However, one collection from Guadalcanal has been described as having ""fruits black and white on two sides. (Lipaqeto BSIP 3334), suggesting that the other collections were not mature. A set of specimens from New Georgia (BSIP 936, 954, 1278, 2522 & 11531), with thicker leaves which dry a very dark brown, are here considered as 'sp. aff. laxiflora'; they may be from a different substrate or collected in alcohol. But two of the collections have a different native name (ae'yalo or aialo) whilst one is given maemae — which is the usual name for M. laxiflora in the Solomons, suggesting there are differences in the field that collectors can identify; unfortunately the material is not good enough to allow description or assignment of species. More collections are needed from the Solomon Islands including, especially, field observations of the fruiting material to establish the mature colour of the fruits.

    Medusanthera laxiflora is distinct because of the chartaceous, elliptic to oblong leaves, which are uniform in size and usually 13 – 17 × 4.5 – 7 cm, and having small ovate to oblong fruits, truncate at both ends, when dry curved (11 – 20.5 × 6 – 8.5 mm) with the fleshy pulviniform appendage maturing to a succulent, translucent pink, covering the black to black-purple shiny drupe when fresh. The leaf size of this species is uniform along the fertile branches, with most collections taken from the terminal fertile portion of these branches. Some collections, however, show the complete length of a fertile branch and its attachment at the base to the 'parent' branch of a lower order. In these collections the fertile branch is subtended by a relatively larger leaf and has a small prophyll present as the first leaf on the fertile branch. The prophyll can be comparatively small, and the smallest leaf size recorded for M. laxiflora is a 5.7 × 1.8 cm prophyll from McDonald & Ismail 3732 — accounting for the size range in the description above.
    [KBu]
    Use
    """Branches are used as sago mallets for beating the sago palm pith"" (Bougainville, Kajewski 2274); ""firewood"" (New Britain, Floyd 3475); ""leaves used by natives orally against malaria"" (Northern Province, Papua New Guinea, Hoogland 4231); ""foliage as vegetable. Fresh leaves diced, mixed with meat. Boil with water as stew"" (Takeuchi & Wiakabu 10042); ""used in 'garden magic' as a fertility charm"" (Bougainville, Waterhouse 887)."

    Images

    Distribution

    Native to:

    Bismarck Archipelago, Caroline Is., Malaya, Maluku, New Guinea, Philippines, Santa Cruz Is., Solomon Is., Sulawesi

    Medusanthera laxiflora (Miers) R.A.Howard appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
    Aug 26, 2008 Paskalina [3], Irian Jaya K000517741
    Nov 25, 2005 Frodin, D.G. [2628], Papua New Guinea K000223658
    Jan 1, 1967 Beccari, O. [532], Papua New Guinea K000700015 isotype
    Jan 1, 1967 Beccari, O. [s.n.], Papua New Guinea K000700016 isotype
    Jan 1, 1967 Cuming, H. [891], Philippines K000700014 isotype
    McDonald [3732], Indonesia K000517312

    First published in J. Arnold Arbor. 21: 470 (1940)

    Accepted by

    • Utteridge, T.M.A. (2011). A revision of the genus Medusanthera (Stemonuraceae, Icacinaceae s.l.) Kew Bulletin 66: 49-81. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Turner, I.M. (1995). A catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Malaya Gardens' Bulletin Singapore 47(1): 1-346.
    • Van Steenis, C.G.G.J. (ed.) (1971-1976). Flora Malesiana 7: 1-876. Noordhoff-Kolff N.V., Djakarta.
    • Sleumer, H. (1969). Materials towards the knowledge of the Icacinaceae of Asia, Malesia, and ajacent areas Blumea 17: 181-264.

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    Kew Backbone Distributions
    • Utteridge, T.M.A. (2011). A revision of the genus Medusanthera (Stemonuraceae, Icacinaceae s.l.) Kew Bulletin 66: 49-81. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
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    Sources

    Herbarium Catalogue Specimens
    'The Herbarium Catalogue, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet http://www.kew.org/herbcat [accessed on Day Month Year]'. Please enter the date on which you consulted the system.
    Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

    Kew Backbone Distributions
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2020. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    © Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Kew Bulletin
    Kew Bulletin
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

    Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2020. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0