Prunus schlechteri

Description

Trees up to 35 m, sometimes buttressed, bark (dark to greyish) brown, smooth or shallowly fissured and with vertical lines of lenticels. Leaves elliptic to oblong, rarely ovate, 6-17(-20) by 2-8(-10) cm, base rounded to acute, apex tapering or acuminate, herbaceous to coriaceous, with 6-13 pairs of nerves, venation usually inconspicuous, sparsely to densely hairy when young, upper surface becoming (almost) glabrous, lower surface usually still hairy when mature, basal glands (0-)2-6, flat. Stipules ovatish to triangular, 2.5-6(-14) by 1-2.5 mm, free, usually with marginal glands. Flowers fragrant, sometimes male. Stamens 15-40, filaments up to 5 mm, glabrous or hairy at base, anthers 0.5-1 mm long. Ovary densely hairy, style up to 3 mm long, often hairy, pistillode in male flowers minute, hairy. Fruits transversely ellipsoid to subglobular (see note), in New Guinea and New Ireland 9-16 by 9-18 mm, in the Solomon Islands up to 17.5 mm long and 20(-23) mm wide, usually hairy, purplish black when ripe, mesocarp often rather thick, endocarp glabrous or with few hairs inside. Seed with hairy testa, sometimes hairs only near the hilum.

Distribution

Asia-Tropical:, Bismarck Archipelago (Bismarck Archipelagopresent); New Guineapresent Bougainville: present New Ireland: present Solomon Islands: present
New Guinea, Bismarck Archipelago (New Ireland), Solomon Islands (from Bougainville to San Cristóbal).

Uses

Few reports on medicinal use are known only from the Solomon Islands (Kajewski 2383, 2483): a macerate of the bark is applied to aching teeth and sore legs.

Notes

In New Guinea one could distinguish two groups differing in the shape and size of the fruits:
  1. Mature fruits transversely ellipsoid, sometimes distinctly bilobed, 10-13 by 12-18 mm. Seen from low altitudes, up to 1220 m.
  2. Mature fruits (sub)globular, 9-16 by 9-16 mm. Seen from higher altitudes, (1280-)1680-2620 m.

The two groups overlap in the measurements of their fruits and the distinction in shape is not always evident: the (sub)globular fruits of group II may tend to be transversely ellipsoid. Moreover, the characters of leaves and flowers do not show any correlation with the differences in fruit and flowering material cannot be matched with the groups as based on the fruits.
The few specimens seen from New Ireland fit in with group I. The populations from the Solomon Islands have, as mentioned in the description, fruits reaching larger sizes than the New Guinean plants of group I, but with an ample overlap.
The shape, size, and consistency of the leaves are somewhat variable in this species without, however, permitting the distinction of infraspecific taxa.
Some specimens with exceptionally long racemes and large leaves may resemble P. dolichobotrys, but differ in the hairy ovaries, fruits, and seeds.

Synonymy

Prunus schlechteri (Koehne) Kalkman in Blumea 13: 79. 1965
  • Pygeum schlechteri Koehne in Bot. Jahrb. 51: 210. 1913
    • Type: Schlechter 17621.
  • =Pygeum forbesii Koehne in Bot. Jahrb. 51: 210. 1913
    • Type: Forbes 529.
  • =Pygeum laurocerasus Koehne in Bot. Jahrb. 51: 208. 1913
    • Type: Schlechter 18621.
  • =Pygeum tetradenium Koehne in Bot Jahrb. 52: 341. 1915
    • Type: Ledermann 7889.
  • =Pygeum salomonense Merr. & Perry in J. Arnold Arbor. 21: 196. 1940
    • Type: San Cristóbal, Brass 2727.