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Erythroxylum australe (seed)

5.0 (1 review)




A member of the Erythroxylaceae family, E. australe is a shrub or small tree in dry rainforest north from the McPherson Range (NSW/QLD border). It also occurs in the Northern Territory. One or two sub-species possibly exist, one is Erythroxylum sp. ‘Splityard Creek’ which has wider leaves and veins which do not loop as much as E. australe. Erthroxylum ellipticum and Erythroxylum ecarinatum (rare and endangered) are other native Erthroxylum species which occur in North Queensland. Other as yet unnamed species are Erythroxylum sp. Brewer LA (B.Hyland 13373), Erythroxylum sp. Mosquito Point (J.R.Clarkson 9991) and Erythroxylum sp. Cholmondely Creek (J.R.Clarkson 9367).

Native Erythroxylum species are supposedly illegal in some states, notably NSW; what a ridiculous and stupid notion!

The leaves of E. australe contain Meteloidine, a tropane alkaloid also present in Datura metel. Chewing of the leaves is said to produce an unpleasant constriction of the throat, whilst smoking the leaves produces a pleasant (?) effect similar to but milder than Datura sp. The roots of E. australe contain Dihydroxytropacocaine and Methylecgonidine which are likely to be active in some way. The roots give off an unusual but somewhat pleasant smell when potting up plants.

Care and Cultivation of Erythroxylum australe

Propagation of Erythroxylum australe is by seed, cuttings appear to be very hard or impossible to strike. The ripe red or orange fruit contain one seed and tastes sweet, being sought after by birds. The seed is removed from the flesh and planted (see notes below about germination).

A common misconception that people approach us with, who only go by what they have read online about other exotic recalcitrant Erythroxylum spp., is that once the seeds are dried, they will not germinate (ie. they assume this species is recalcitrant, which means if they dry out the embryo will die). This is simply not the case with the Australian Erythroxylum I have grown, both E. australe and ‘Splityard Creek’. These species are highly adapted to Australian conditions, where we have extended dry periods. It makes no sense when they are widely spread in forests with variable rainfall, for them to have recalcitrant seeds. In my experience the seeds are viable for at least 1-3 months stored simply, but when stored under cool conditions, this is extended to 6-12 months, possibly more. This is my experience and observation!

Soak seed overnight in 1-2 changes of water before sowing. Sow 0.5-1cm deep in a rich moist potting mix in full sun to part shade in the warmer months. I cover the seeds with 1-2mm pumice, you could also use a coarse sand. Germination should occur within 21 days if sown in spring, but can take up to 3-9 months. If you haven’t noticed any germinations after 3-6 months, you can let the soil dry out, then start watering again. This often stimulates germination. Once they are big enough, they can be potted up separately or planted out.

Erythroxylum australe is a tough little Australian shrub. In times of wet it looks luxuriant, but in times of drought it will shed the majority of its leaves and become dormant. These plants make a handsome addition to the garden and can be pruned, fertilised and watered regularly to maintain an attractive habit. Well drained soil in a full sun to part shade position.

5 seeds per packet

1 review for Erythroxylum australe (seed)

  1. JAH

    Quality seed strong healthy plants once germinated. Seemed to benefit from drying the soil out and scratching the surface after keeping moist for a period

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