- Alphitonia excelsa
name = "Alphitonia excelsa"
divisio = Magnoliophyta
genus = "
species = "A. excelsa"
binomial = "Alphitonia excelsa"
binomial_authority = (Fenzl) Benth.
"Alphitonia excelsa", commonly known as the Red Ash or Soap Tree, is a species of
treein the Rhamnaceaefamily. It is endemic to Australia, being found in New South Wales, Queensland, Northern Territory and the northeastern tip of Western Australia. It is used in bush regenerationas a pioneer speciesand for amenity planting.
Taxonomy and naming
"Alphitonia excelsa" was first described by
Eduard Fenzland reclassified by George Bentham. One of 20 species of the genus " Alphitonia" in Australia and the Pacific Islands, its specific epithet is derived from the Latin"excelsus" 'tall'. [cite book|author = Simpson DP| title = Cassell's Latin Dictionary | publisher = Cassell Ltd.| date = 1979|edition = 5|location = London|pages = 883| isbn=0-304-52257-0] Other common names include Red Almond,de Beuzeville, p. 110] Silver Leaf, Leatherjacket, White Leaf, White Myrtle, Sarsaparilla Tree, and Coopers Wood.
This tree reaches a height of 7-25 m (26-82 ft), by 5-10 m (16-33 ft) across.cite book |author=Eliot RW, Jones DL, Blake T |title=Encyclopaedia of Australian Plants Suitable for Cultivation: Vol. 2|year=1985|pages=p. 176 |publisher=Lothian Press |location=Port Melbourne |isbn=0-85091-143-5] The Red Ash has a spreading shade-producing habit when a larger tree with an overall greyish green appearance. The alternate leaves measure 5-14 cm (2-6 in) in length and 2-5 cm (1-2 in) wide and are dark glossy green above and silvery with fine hairs underneath, making an attractive contrast on windy days. The trunk and larger branches bear fissured grey bark, while smaller branches have smoother grey or white bark. It bears small greenish white flowers in late autumn and early winter, followed by globular dark fruit around 1.5 cm (0.5 in) in diameter,de Beuzeville, p. 125] which contain two seeds. When young shoots are bruised, they give off a typical odour of
sarsaparilla.cite web |url=http://www.cpbr.gov.au/gnp/gnp6/alph-exc.html |title=Growing Native Plants - "Alphitonia excelsa" |accessdate=2008-04-24 |author=ANBG staff |date=1976 |work=Australian National Botanic Gardens website |publisher=Australian National Botanic Gardens] The flowers are fragrant in the evening.
Distribution and habitat
It grows in
eucalyptforests, eucalyptand acacia savannas, gallery forests and rainforests of NSWfrom Mount Gulaga(previously known as Mt Dromedary) northwards along the coast and inland to the Pilliga scrub, though Queenslandand the Northern Territoryand into the northwest of Western Australia. [cite web |url=http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Alphitonia~excelsa |title="Alphitonia excelsa" (Fenzl) Benth. |accessdate=2008-04-24 |author=Harden GJ |date=1990 |work=Plantnet - New South Wales Flora Online |publisher=Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney] Inland forms can be stunted in appearance. It prefers sandy soils.
It serves as a food plant for the caterpillars of the Moonlight Jewel ("
Hypochrysops delicia"), [cite book |title=The Complete Field Guide to Butterflies of Australia |last=Braby |first=Michael F.|year=2005 |publisher=CSIRO Publishing |location=Collingwood, Victoria |isbn=0-643-09027-4 |pages=p. 226]
Trees are quick growing in cultivation. This is an Australian ornamental tree, with some specimens of high visual appeal. It may be used in amenity planting as a street tree providing shelter. It has also been used in boat-building and cabinet making, its tough timber a light red or brown in colour. It can be a fodder plant for sheep and cattle, and is a useful pioneer species in bush regeneration. [cite web |url=http://www.lhccrems.nsw.gov.au/CPR/CPR/plant_profiles/a.excelsa.htm |title=Coastal plant Regeneration:Red Ash - "Alphitonia excelsa" |accessdate=2008-04-24 |author=HCCREMS |date=2005 |work=Hunter and Central Coast Regional Management Strategy (HCCREMS) website |publisher=HCCREMS]
*cite book |title=Australian Trees for Australian Planting |author=de Beuzeville WAW |year=1947 |publisher=Forestry Commission of New South Wales/ A. H. Pettifer, Govenrment Printer |location=Sydney
*APNI | name = Alphitonia excelsa | id = 28728
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