Gastonia spectabilis

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Gastonia spectabilis

Description

Tree up to 40 m high, clear bole to 28 m, dbh 1.75 m, crown sparsely branched with the branches whorled or regularly forked and the leaves crowded at the ends of the branches, all young parts with scurfy indumentum more evident in dried material. Leaves up to 80 by 30 cm; Inflorescence in forks well below the leaves, when in bud covered with large scurfy cataphylls, and when mature with radiating branches forming clusters c. 130 cm ø. Petals 6-12, very fleshy, incompletely separated (often splitting into c. 5 lobes). Stamens 25-66, often c. 35, filaments short; Ovary with a short dense indumentum, smoothly rounded below, cells usually c. 16, very rarely fewer than 10, as many as 22; Fruit c. 8 by 10 mm (dry and without stylopodium), the flattened disk with a prominent stylopodium ending in an elliptical ring of radiating subulate stigmatic arms;

Distribution

Asia-Tropical: New Guinea present, Bismarcks present, NW. Irian present, New Ireland present, Papua New Guinea present, Solomon Is present, Vogelkop present
Solomon Is.; in Malesia: New Guinea (Vogelkop, NW. Irian, Papua New Guinea), Bismarcks, and New Ireland. .

Notes

Possibly the largest araliad known. The regular habit of branching results from the vegetative shoots springing in pairs or whorls from below terminal inflorescence buds. Several flushes of growth occur as an inflorescence bud matures, so that at anthesis the inflorescences are situated in forks well below the leafy crown, with a succession of younger inflorescence buds in higher forks.
Bole without buttresses or with buttresses 1 m high and 2 m wide. Outer bark brown with prominent pustular lenticels and small shallow fissures. Exudate from cuts abundant, clear and aromatic. Wood soft. Flowers cream, stamens yellow. Ripe fruit dark red-brown.

Citation

Philipson - in Blumea. 1970: f. 2