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Melicytus dentatus (DC.) Molloy & Mabb.
Family Violaceae
Common name: Tree Violet

Melicytus dentatus (DC.) Molloy & Mabb. APNI*

Synonyms: Hymenanthera dentata R.Br. ex DC. APNI*

Description: Erect to spreading shrub to 2–5 m high, up to 6 m across, usually dioecious. Bark smooth, grey, with lenticels. Branchlets often tapering to a spinose tip, often with lateral spines c. 1 cm long.

Leaves mid- to dark green, lower surface paler than upper. Juvenile leaves usually broad-obovate, conspicuously dentate, often larger than adult leaves. Adult leaves oblong or narrow-elli[ptic to narrow-obovate, 25–40 mm long, 4–6 mm wide, solitary or in groups, margins callus-toothed or serrate.

Inflorescences 1- or 2- (rarely more) flowered, axillary to old leaves or their petiole scars, on short shoots, 1 or 2 per axil. Bracteoles deltoid. Sepals unequal, imbricate. Corolla broad-cylindric. Petals fleshy; male flowers usually daphne-scented, pale yellow to lemon yellow, anthers sessile, creamy yellow; female flowers mildly sweet-scented, off-white or pale yellow

Fruit an ellipsoid to ovoid berry 7–8 mm long, 5–7 mm in diameter, initially green, maturing to uniformly bluish-grey to dark mauvish-grey or completely white, calyx persistent. Pyrenes 1 or 2, smooth, 3–4 mm long.

Flowering: Flowering occurs from early August to mid–October, at least partly depending on altitude. Fruits mature between December and March.

Distribution and occurrence: Occurs from far south-eastern Queensland in the Nandewa rregion, through to the Nandewar, New England Tablelands and South East Corner in eastern New South Wales, and extending south to the Victorian Midlands in the north-eastern part of that State and to the Naracoorte Coastal Plain in south-western Victoria. Further collecting is required to establish whether M.dentatus is present in Tasmania.

Grows in a wide variety of habitats, usually in open forests and woodlands, often near lakes, swamps or watercourses, from near sea level to c.1000 m above sea level at Mount Tomah in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales. Soils are usually sandy, derived from sedimentary parent materials, or alluvial, rarely volcanic, clays.
NSW subdivisions: NC, CC, SC, NT, CT, ST, NWS, CWS, SWS
Other Australian states: Vic. Tas. S.A.
AVH map***

Widespread, adequately reserved. Of limited distribution in Queensland, where apparently confined to the Stanthorpe area, but conserved there in Sundown National Park.

Text by T. A. James; updated L.J. Murray Aug 2009; updated L.J. Murray Sep 2017; updated S.F. McCune Jan 2023.
Taxon concept: Flora of NSW 1 (1990); V. Stajsic et al. (2014) A revision of Melicytus (Violaceae) in mainland Australia and Tasmania. Australian Systematic Botany 27: 305-323.

APNI* Provides a link to the Australian Plant Name Index (hosted by the Australian National Botanic Gardens) for comprehensive bibliographic data
***The AVH map option provides a detailed interactive Australia wide distribution map drawn from collections held by all major Australian herbaria participating in the Australian Virtual Herbarium project.
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