Planchonia careya

Distribution Map
Family: Lecythidaceae
Distribution: Across northern tropical Australia and down the east coast to about Fraser Island, in open forests and woodlands..
Common Name: Cocky apple; Billy goat plum
Derivation of Name: Planchonia....after Jules Émile Planchon, professor of Medicine and Botany.
careya....after Dr. William Carey, Indian linguist-botanist
Conservation Status: Not considered to be at risk in the wild.

General Description:

Planchonia is a small genus of trees native to south-east Asia with two species occurring in Australia - P.careya which is common across tropical northern Australia and P.rupestris which is restricted to the sandstone plateau of the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

Planchonia careya is a small tree, 4-10 metres high, which is briefly deciduous in the dry season. Bark is grey, rough, slightly corky and fissured. Leaves are egg-shaped or spatula-shaped, tapering to the base, shiny light green above, dull beneath, softly leathery, margins having rounded teeth, 2.5-10 cm x 3-6 cm. The leaves turn rusty-orange before falling.

Planchonia careya

Planchonia careya (fruit)
Flowers and fruit of Planchonia careya
Photos: Keith Townsend

The flowers of Cocky Apple are large, white and fleshy with numerous pink and white stamens 5-6 cm long. Flowering is quite prolific but not readily apparent as the flowers open in the evening and usually fall by morning. Flowering period is July to October. The fruit is green, egg-shaped and smooth to 9 cm x 4 cm. Seeds are contained in a fibrous, cheesy flesh and the fruit was popular with Aborigines. Many parts of the plant were used for a wide range of medicinal purposes. As indicated by the common names, the fruit is readily eaten by cockatoos and goats.

This species is not widely cultivated but should be suited to tropical areas.

Propagation is reported to be relatively easy from seed.


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