Brown Gardenia fruit.

Native Gardenia, also called Brown Gardenia, Yellow Mangosteen

Atractocarpus (formerly Randia) fitzalanii

Origin:

Native to the north coast of Queensland.

Climate:

Tropical, but will also grow in sub-tropical areas. Best in warm, moist areas. Can tolerate a very light, short frost. Prefers regular watering, but is drought hardy once established. Altitudinal range from sea level to 1200m.

Plant Description:

An attractive woody rainforest understory shrub or tree that can grow to 5m or more. The trunk has smooth, grey bark. The large glossy dark green leaves are obovate to oval-shaped and range from 10–18cm long by 3–5cm wide. Stipules often quite large, lanceolate, about 30 mm long, drawn out into a fine point at the apex, not twisted, enclosing the terminal bud on each twig. Stipules square in transverse section and glabrous on the outer surface. Stipular scars do not leave a prominent ring on the twigs. The yellowish veins and midrib are prominent on the leaf. The new growth is a bright lime green in colour.

Relatives:

Member of the large Rubiaceae family with over 10,000 species, including coffee. The blackberry jam fruit is in the same genus. Tropical mangosteen is in a different family (Clusiaceae)

Soils:

Good drainage. Can grow near beach.

Propagation:

Seeds, cuttings. Seeds are recalcitrant: remove from the fruit and sow immediately.

Cultivars:

None known.

Flowering and Pollination:

The small (2-2.5cm) white fragrant monoecious flowers appear from September to November, occur singly and have five lanceolate petals forming a tube. The flowers resemble those of Gardenia. Male flowers: Flowers on a pedicle about 1-15 mm long. Calyx lobes small and inconspicuous. Flowers quite large, corolla tube about 10mm long with corolla lobes about 15mm long. Anthers sessile, about 6-7mm long, included in the corolla tube. Female flowers: Hypanthium about 7mm long. Calyx tube about 6mm long, lobes about 1mm long. Corolla tube about 15mm long, lobes about 20mm long. There is an inferior ovary with style plus stigma about 14-17mm long, swollen part about 9-12mm long, stigmatic lobes about 6-10mm long. The flowers open in the afternoon and are pollinated by moths.

Cultivation:

Grows in full sun or partial shade. Mulch well.

Wind Tolerance:

Plant in sheltered position.

Pruning:

Generally not needed except to shape as desired.

The Fruit:

Fruits frequently solitary (rarely 2-4 together) globular or ellipsoid, about 60-70 x 35-100mm, calyx often persisting at the apex. Pedicels about 10-15mm long. Seeds numerous, flattened, about 8 x 6-7mm. Edible, slightly sweet yellow fruits 3 to 4cm in diameter, many flat, triangular, whitish small seeds embedded in a rather dry pulp. Considered to be good bush tucker by Aboriginal people who eat it raw.

Fruit Production and Harvesting:

Fruit ripens late summer to midwinter. Edible when soft.

Fruit Uses:

Mainly eaten fresh.

Pests and Diseases:

Possibly spider mites. Birds eat the fruit.

Comments:

Very ornamental, hardy, has wonderful fragrance and is relatively easy to grow. But the fruit of some seedling-grown trees can be disappointing. So if you taste a good one, that's the plant to propagate from rather than take your chances with seed. Can be grown in containers.