Marsdenia australis

Distribution Map
Family: Apocynaceae
Distribution: Inland areas of South Australia, Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.
Common Name: Bush pear; bush banana.
Derivation of Name: Marsdenia; named after William Marsden, 19th century plant collector and Secretary of the Admiralty.
australis; southern, referring to the global distribution of the species.
Conservation Status: Not considered to be at risk in the wild

General Description:

Marsdenia is a genus of about 60 species, 18 of which occur in Australia. They are generally climbers or small to medium shrubs.

Marsdenia australis

Marsdenia australis seeds
Fruit (top) and seeds within the split fruit (bottom) of
Marsdenia australis

Photos: Horst Weber

Marsdenia australis is a climbing species with twining stems containing a milky sap. The linear shaped leaves are about 50 to 100 mm long by about 30 mm wide. The greenish-yellow flowers are about 75 mm long and occur in branched clusters from the leaf axils in spring to summer. The flowers are followed by a large, pear-shaped or elongated fruit containing numerous yellow-brown seeds attached to tightly packed feathery hairs. This species was formerly known as Leichhardtia australis and will still be found under that name in some references.

Few members of this genus are in cultivation but M.australis would be worth trying in a dry climate. It is not especially vigorous and will not overwhelm other plants growing nearby. It should be planted in a position receiving full sun or light, dappled shade and soils should be well drained.

The seeds of of M.australis are edible and are said to resemble garden peas in taste. The plant also produces an edible underground tuber.

M.australis can be grown from fresh seed, which requires no pretreatment. Cuttings of firm, young growth should also be successful.


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