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Genus Parsonsia Family Apocynaceae

Synonyms: Lyonsia APNI*

Description: Woody climbers with twining stems, often tall; latex usually clear, colourless or pale yellow, but opaque and milky-white in 2 N.S.W. species (P. longipetiolata, and P. dorrigoensis).

Leaves opposite, petiolate; leaves on juvenile plants often differing markedly in shape and size from those on adult plants.

Flowers in cymes or panicles. Calyx often with minute glands inside near the base. Corolla yellowish or white; tube short and mostly with a ring of reflexed hairs at the throat; lobes mostly spreading or recurved, contorted-imbricate or valvate in bud. Anthers fused in a cone around the style head and adhering to it mostly, partially or fully exserted from the corolla tube, each narrowed at the apex, fertile in the upper half only, expanded at the base into 2 sterile lobes. Nectariferous scales 5, free or fused, inserted around the ovary. Carpels fused, ovary usually superior, 2-locular with axile placentas and numerous ovules; style head dilated, mostly capitate, surrounded near the base by a thick or membranous ring adherent to the anthers.

Fruit a capsule, terete, elongated and pod-like, or ovoid, separating when mature into 2 follicle-like segments and a thin septum; seeds numerous, with a coma of long silky hairs.


Photo © ANBG

Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 130 species, South-East Asia to New Guinea, N.C., New Zealand & Polynesia. Australia: c. 22 species (c. 20 endemic), all States, mostly tropical and E coast and a few from dry inland areas.

Text by G. J. Harden & J. B. Williams
Taxon concept:

Taxa not yet included in identification key
Parsonsia howeana,    Parsonsia largiflorens

 Key to the species 
1Leaves on adult plants more than 8 times as long as wide, linear to lanceolate; anther cone long-exserted above the corolla on spirally twisted filaments; fruit ovoid or narrow-ovoid; widespread inland species of the Slopes and plainsParsonsia eucalyptophylla
Leaves on adult plants usually less than 8 times as long as wide, not linear, sometimes lanceolate but usually wider; anther cone partially or almost wholly exserted but never raised high above the corolla, filaments twisted or not twisted; fruit more or less terete, mostly slender; chiefly in coastal areas, sometimes extending to the Slopes and plains2
2Leaves less than 4.5 cm long, margins crisped or flatter and finely toothedParsonsia lilacina
Leaves usually more than 4.5 cm long, margins neither crisped nor toothed (sometimes shallowly toothed at the base only in Parsonsia tenuis)
                       Back to 1
3
3Corolla glabrous inside; apex of leaves obtuse, emarginate or short-acute and with a stiff pointParsonsia lanceolata
Corolla with a ring of hairs at the throat, sometimes tube and lobes also hairy inside; apex of leaves mostly gradually acute or acuminate
                       Back to 2
4
4Leaves softly pubescent on lower surface; petiole and branchlets densely pubescent (older leaves sometimes glabrescent in Parsonsia velutina)5
Leaves glabrous or with inconspicuous sparse fine hairs on lower surface
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8
5Hairs fawn to brownish, especially on young leaves and stems, the young expanding leaves brown-silky or furry on both surfaces; leaves broad, 3.5–9 cm wide; anthers without a dorsal keel or crest6
Hairs mostly colourless or whitish, the leaves and shoots neither brownish nor silky; leaves 1–5 cm wide; anthers with a prominent dorsal keel or ridge
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7
6Leaves broad-ovate or elliptic, apex short-acuminate or acute, base broad-cuneate to rounded or shallowly cordate (2-lobed at the base in leaves on juvenile plants), small domatia usually present; flowers pedicellate in loose cymose paniclesParsonsia fulva
Leaves ovate, apex acuminate to a fine point, base strongly cordate (2-lobed at the base in leaves on juvenile plants), domatia absent; flowers more or less sessile in condensed cymes
                       Back to 5
Parsonsia velutina
7Tertiary veins of leaves numerous and prominent on lower surface forming backwardly curving connections between secondary veins; corolla tube globoseParsonsia ventricosa
Tertiary veins faint, few and irregular or transverse on lower surface, not forming a regular curving pattern; corolla tube cylindrical
                       Back to 5
Parsonsia tenuis
8Leaves with the secondary veins faintly visible on upper surface and more or less invisible on lower surface; older stems more than 5 mm diam. with prominent corky outgrowthsParsonsia rotata
Leaves with the secondary veins (and often some smaller veins) distinct on lower surface; stems without discrete corky outgrowths
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9
9Corolla tube ovoid or globose10
Corolla tube cylindric or gradually tapering to the base, neither ovoid nor globose
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11
10Milky latex exuding from cut stems and petioles; corolla tube ovoid, lobes strongly recurved; anthers with only the tips exserted, filaments twistedParsonsia dorrigoensis
Clear watery sap exuding from cut stems and petioles; corolla tube globose, lobes spreading; anthers half-exserted, filaments not twisted
                       Back to 9
Parsonsia ventricosa
11Leaves finely reticulate on both surfaces, the reticulum raised in dried leaves; climbing by adventitious roots but some stems twining and without climbing rootsParsonsia straminea
Leaves with the fine reticulum invisible; climbing roots absent
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12
12Leaves with 9 or more pairs of secondary veinsParsonsia brownii
Leaves with 3–8 (rarely 9) pairs of secondary veins
                       Back to 11
13
13Clear watery latex exuding from cut stems and petioles; leaves more than twice as long as broad; petiole less than half as long as lamina; corolla lobes no longer than tube14
Milky latex exuding from cut stems and petioles; leaves with the blades less than twice as long as broad; petiole mostly more than half as long as lamina; corolla lobes more than 4 times long as tube
                       Back to 12
Parsonsia longipetiolata
14Leaves very thin and soft, the reticulum mostly invisible, secondary veins usually interconnecting to form a fine intramarginal vein; dried leaves green on upper surface, green to pale purple on lower surface; apex long-acuminate to a fine point, corolla lobes erect, hood-shapedParsonsia induplicata
Leaves firm, of moderate thickness, the coarser reticulum visible, no intramarginal vein present; dried leaves purple or purplish black on both surfaces; apex acute or acuminate with a small stiff point; corolla lobes spreading, not hood-shaped
                       Back to 13
Parsonsia purpurascens

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